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December 30, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Southeastern Conference Notebook

by Rainer Sabin

A week after beating Indiana and witnessing the Mike Davis tirade in Freedom Hall, Kentucky returned to Louisville to face its in-state rival, the Cardinals, last Saturday. It didn’t take long for the joy reaped from the victory over the Hoosiers to be replaced with sorrow, as Louisville pounded No. 14 Kentucky 81-63.

Rick Pitino, who had won a national championship with Kentucky, earned his first win over his former team and did so in typical fashion. The Cardinals converted ten of 21 shots from behind the arc, while also receiving help from Kentucky transfer, Marvin Stone. Stone scored sixteen points and grabbed seven rebounds in the victory over the team for which he once played.

Stone’s performance served as a dagger in the heart of the Wildcats, which had climbed up the rankings to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll. Now, Kentucky must recover from a disappointing loss to its nemesis and finish up the non-conference schedule with a series of lightweights that include Tennessee State and Alcorn State.

Bulldogs have it Easy in Big Easy

The Bulldogs are good. Just ask Oklahoma. Mississippi State (8-1) took care of the No. 5 Sooners 54-45 at the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans. Mario Austin, who is averaging 23.3 points per game, tallied 18 in the victory, as he helped the Bulldogs maintain their advantage despite poor shooting. Mississippi State shot just 36 percent from the field. However, Oklahoma was held to 31 percent in its first loss since its opening game against Alabama. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have not been defeated since dropping their season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Surprise, Surprise: Freshmen Lead Way in Victory

Freshmen Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson are making names for themselves, and the season is just 12 games old. The Gators (10-2) beat up on non-conference outpost Bethune-Cookman 99-64 Saturday, as Walsh and Roberson scored 29 and 22 points, respectively. Walsh, who seems a sure bet for the distinction of “SEC Newcomer of the Year,” hit all seven of his attempts from behind the arc. Florida seemed to be firing on all cylinders five days after it put forth a lackluster effort against Charleston Southern last Monday in a 74-62 win.

No Post-Upset Letdown for LSU

It had been a week since LSU upset the then-No. 1 Arizona Wildcats in Baton Rouge. The chances for a disappointing loss following the unlikely victory would seem to have increased. However, the Tigers were able to refocus their energy Saturday, as they defeated Tulane 74-62 in the aforementioned Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans. It was the first meeting between the two schools since 1982, despite the fact that both institutions are just down the road from one another. Guard Darrel Mitchell scored 12 off the bench, while Ronald Dupree added a team-high 22 points for LSU in the win.

Around the Rest of the SEC

It was a slow week in the SEC, and a dearth of interesting games was apparent over the Christmas holidays. Ole Miss (9-2) beat up on SWAC lightweight Arkansas Pine Bluff 70-38, just five days after disposing of Evansville 87-69 . . . Arkansas (5-4) moved over the .500 mark for the first time since it won its season opener over Jackson State, as the Hogs beat up on Centenary 75-51. The Razorbacks play Oklahoma State Monday . . . Tennessee (5-2) has been off since last Monday, when it beat Western Carolina 79-61. The Volunteers will face Tennessee-Martin Monday and finish its non-conference schedule against New Mexico Jan. 4 . . . Auburn (9-2) faces Southern Miss Monday, a week after thrashing Troy State 94-60. Forward Marquis Daniels (20.0 points per game, 7.6 RPG) leads the team in scoring and rebounding . . . Georgia (7-3) put away Wisconsin-Milwaukee 89-69 Saturday, as Jarvis Hayes, Ezra Williams, and Rashad Wright each scored 16 points. The Bulldogs face Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve in their last non-conference game . . . No. 1 Alabama (9-0) has had a week off since it beat Morehead State 82-64 Dec. 23. The Crimson Tide travels to Utah to face the Utes Dec. 30 . . . South Carolina (5-4) is enjoying an eleven-day sabbatical since its trip out west went terribly wrong. The Gamecocks lost to Wyoming and Colorado State and will resume play Jan. 2 against the Citadel . . . Vanderbilt (6-3) will meet up with No. 8 Notre Dame Monday in South Bend. It will be the first game for the Commodores since losing to Michigan 70-66 on Dec. 21.


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