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December 29, 2002 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 29th, 2002

by Phil Kasiecki

It was a day of upsets on the final Saturday of the calendar year, though a couple were more notable than others as one was a heated rivalry game and two top 25 teams matched up in another.

Freedom Hall hosted one of the more storied rivalries in college hoops on Saturday, and one that had more angles than normal to make it interesting. Louisville shot 46.2% from the field and stifled No. 14 Kentucky in an 81-63 upset. Rick Pitino’s team lost by 20 last year in his return to Rupp Arena, so the second time around was certainly better against his old team. Besides the sub-plot of Pitino being the former Kentucky head coach, Louisville (7-1) also had Kentucky transfer Marvin Stone, who played no small role in the win. Stone scored 16 points and combined with Ellis Myles in a formidable front line attack, as Myles had 11 points and 14 rebounds. The Wildcats are now 6-3.

In New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl is more known in football, but on Saturday two Top 25 teams took to the hardwood in the Sugar Bowl Classic. No. 17 Mississippi State improved to 8-1 as they knocked off No. 5 Oklahoma in an ugly game, 54-45. The two teams combined to shoot below 34% from the field, but the game was won at the foul line: the Bulldogs made 15 of 19 free throws, while the Sooners attempted just five.

The Bulldogs also won with defense, a point not lost on Oklahoma All-America candidate Hollis Price, who scored a team-high 17 points but shot 6-17 from the field. “They’re probably one of the best defensive teams we’ve played against,” Price said. They also shut down leading scorer Ebi Ere, who entered averaging just under 20 points per game and was held to just 9 points on 4-16 shooting.

Side Dishes

Not The Only Ones: Continuing the upsets, Memphis (6-2) knocked off No. 7 Illinois (8-1), 77-74, as John Grice and Anthony Rice led five players in double figures with 16 points each. Temple (2-6) made John Chaney’s return to the sideline a good one, as they got 26 points from Alex Wesby to defeat No. 11 Indiana (8-2) by a 71-64 margin. Iowa continued its surprise start, improving to 8-2 with a 67-63 win over No. 21 Tulsa (7-2).

On The Other Hand: Most Top 25 teams who won on Saturday won in blowouts. No. 2 Pittsburgh (9-0) shut down George Mason, 65-41. No. 4 Arizona (6-1) had an easy time with Davidson, 95-69. No. 6 Connecticut (8-0) easily handled in-state rival Central Connecticut, 93-65. No. 9 Oregon (9-1) crushed Cal-Riverside 108-67 for their 23rd straight home win. No. 12 Marquette (8-1) got 26 points from Robert Jackson and 23 from Dwyane Wade as they blew out Grambling, 105-74. No. 13 Florida (10-2) routed in-state rival Bethune-Cookman, 99-64 behind 29 points from freshman Matt Walsh. No. 15 Michigan State (8-2) handled Jacksonville State 76-52. Romain Sato led five players in double figures with 23 points as Xavier (8-2) beat Eastern Kentucky, 84-60.

Working Overtime: Several games took overtime to decide the winner. Bob Knight made his first appearance in a Big Ten arena as heac coach of No. 25 Texas Tech, and watched his team score 25 points in overtime for a 99-89 win over Minnesota (6-3) to improve to 8-1. Pepperdine (7-4) needed two overtimes to take out Arkansas-Little Rock (7-5) 116-110. Kent State (7-1) continued their start by breaking the five-game winning streak Boston College (6-3) had with an 86-83 overtime win in the second game of the Balance Bar Rock-N-Roll Shootout.

Falling For the First Time: Illinois wasn’t the only previously undefeated team to fall on Saturday. Pacific handed St. Joseph’s (7-1) its first loss of the season, 62-50. Virginia handed Georgetown (7-1) its first loss, 79-75 in Charlottesville.

Coming Back: After being upset by Iona and losing freshman forward Sean May for 8-10 weeks on Friday night, No. 23 North Carolina (8-3) regrouped to take the consolation in the Holiday Festival, 63-59 over St. John’s.

All Done: Vermont has decided to redshirt guard T.J. Sorrentine, last season’s America East Player of the Year. Sorrentine, who became just the third player to win the award as a sophomore, has been sidelined since the preseason with fractures to both of his wrists. While the triquetrium, a small bone he broke in his left wrist, has healed, the schaphoid (a bone directly below the thumb) that he broke in his right wrist has not healed.

The Future Is Now: Saturday was day three at the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament in Lewes, Delaware, with plenty of great action featuring part of the next generation of college basketball stars. See the article for more details.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Several ACC teams are in action, including a conference matchup. Georgia Tech travels to College Park to take on No. 22 Maryland, while No. 1 Duke hosts Dayton and No. 24 North Carolina State plays host to Wofford.

• No. 18 Creighton hosts Southeast Missouri State.

• Iowa State hits the road to take on in-state rival Northern Iowa.

• Today is day four at the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament. The slate features the Mayor’s Cup consolation and championship games, as well as semifinals in the Tip-Off Classic and National Power Series. Stay tuned for coverage.

That’s it for this Sunday. Enjoy!

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