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December 30, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, December 30th, 2002

by Andrew Flynn

It’s not all about the Slam Dunk to the Beach around here, the four most recent articles notwithstanding. However, the beach is something that definitely comes to mind when the Rainbow Classic gets mentioned. Now this season’s edition of the Classic doesn’t have a lot of marquee matchups, however, there has been some great basketball played.

The first story is the impressive comeback of the Chicago State. In case you don’t follow the Cougars, they briefly became the hottest thing since the latest Kilauea eruption by breaking the nation’s longest losing streak (24 games) last week, then followed that up with a second win over Texas Southern. Yesterday, however, they weren’t able to capture lightning in a bottle a third time against the preseason-ranked Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky, and thus started a new streak, losing 63-56.

Western Kentucky, who had allowed the Cougars to take the lead 47-46 at the six-minute mark on a 11-0 run, regained the lead on the strength of Patrick Sparks’ 11-point contribution late in the game. Sparks led all scorers with 22. Chicago State headed to a consolation game against Texas-Pan American, while the Hilltoppers marched into the semifinals to face Butler.

In the consolation match, Chicago State got off the schnide in style to set their streak at “W-1”, by downing the Broncs of Texas-Pan American 57-54 with a three-quarter court Rainbow at the buzzer. Craig Franklin, the Cougar’s leading scorer, took the inbound pass with 2.1 seconds remaining and heaved it from the opposite arc. The Broncs, who missed a chance to pull ahead by draining only 1 of 3 free throws, were led by Allen Holcomb, with a 16/11 double-double.

Similarly, Butler used a last-second trey to down Western Kentucky, 63-60. Bulldog Brandon Miller, who had been cold all day in Hawaii by going 0-for-9 from the field, let it fly from the arc with :02 on the clock to keep Butler undefeated with a 10-0 record. The Bulldogs were led by Darnell Archey with 14 points, and Mike Monserez and Avery Sheets added 12 apiece. Monserez drained a three that sparked a 12-0 Bulldog run, but Western Kentucky, led by Filip Videnov’s 18 points, kept nibbling away at the lead throughout the second half, eventually tying it up with 30 seconds remaining. And since we started this story with streaks, let’s end it right. Butler’s Archey nailed five free throws, meaning he’s 30-for-30 on the season, and has made 71 straight since last year.

Side Dishes

The Champion: : No. 23 Maryland started the defense of their ACC crown yesterday, by downing up-and-coming Georgia Tech 84-77. Drew Nicholas led the Terrapins in the back-and-forth contest with a career-high 29 points, and fellow senior Ryan Randle added 20. The Yellowjackets, who can’t seem to beat Maryland (having lost 12 of the last 14) were led by B.J. Elder with 19 points, and Chris Bosh’s 16.

And Runner Up: Last year’s ACC runner-up, the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils, shot down the Flyers of Dayton, 85-74. Duke started fast, belying a two-week layoff, by streaking to a 10-1 early lead that wouldn’t seriously be challenged all evening. Duke freshman J.J. Redick got hot late, nailing his final eight field goal attempts for a career-high 26. The Blue Devils were assisted by Dahntay Jones’ 15 and Casey Sanders’ career-high 13. Dayton’s Keith Waleskowski scored 11 straight points late in the second half to bring the margin to six, but it was as close as they would get. Waleskowski led the Flyers with 20, and D.J. Stelly notched 16 in the first meeting between the teams in 31 years.

Bluejay Way: No. 19 Creighton remained unbeaten by downing Southeast Missouri State 93-70. The Bluejays were led by Kyle Korver’s 22 points, and reserve Mike Grimes added a career-high 17 points off the bench in a game that showcased Creighton’s depth. Tim Scheer led the SMS Indians with 20 points, who were outgunned in contributions off the bench, with a 42-2 disadvantage. Creighton’s combination of ball-control and press led to 30 points off Indian turnovers. This is Creighton’s best season since the 1942-43 squad that started 16-0.

(No) More Nolan? This time, it’s Nolan Richardson III. Richardson, the son of the legendary Arkansas coach, and coach of the Tennessee State Tigers, was suspended indefinitely by athletics director Teresa Phillips for an undisclosed violation of university policy. Richardson did not travel with the team to Columbus, Ohio for this weekend’s game against the Buckeyes. Assistant coach Hosea Lewis is expected to take the reins for the foreseeable future, and the NCAA has been involved in an investigation into the schools’ offseason drills and recruiting practices. The Tigers face No. 12 Kentucky on the road tonight.

Tonight’s Menu:

Plenty of action tonight as several ranked squads look to get back on track after nursing their upset wounds over the weekend. No fewer than 13 of the Top 25 teams are playing tonight. Here are the highlights:

• No. 1 Alabama tries on their ranking on the road against the Rick Majerus-led Utes of Utah. No. 15 Missippi State goes for their ninth in a row and seventh over USA by going on the road to face Southern Alabama.

• Similarly, No. 13 Marquette goes on the road for just the second time this season to open their Conference-USA schedule against the surprising 8-2 East Carolina. No. 4 Arizona goes for their 17th Fiesta Bowl Classic title in 18 years against Boston University.

• No. 5 Oklahoma tries to regroup by hosting UNC Asheville, and No. 8 Illinois will likely get back on track by hosting 1-8 Coppin State. As mentioned above, Kentucky will limp into their matchup with Tennessee State after their loss to Louisville this weekend.

That’s it for this Monday. Enjoy!

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