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Big Ten Notebook

December 31, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Big Ten Notebook

by Chris Burke

Illinois couldn’t get past an up-and-coming Memphis squad. Indiana lost a bad
one to Temple on the road. And Bobby Knight got his revenge on the Big Ten,
handling Minnesota at Williams Arena.

In the midst of the Big Ten carnage on the weekend, flying below the radar were
two significant victories — Iowa stunned No. 22 Tulsa on the road, and Michigan
pulled the same trick, keeping a reeling UCLA team on the ropes.

The Hawkeyes, supposedly in a rebuilding year, pulled off one of the
conference’s biggest wins yet this season with a 67-63 stunner over the Golden
Hurricane on Saturday. With the victory, Iowa has rolled out to an 8-2 start and finds itself facing what could be a major statement game Saturday when
Missouri comes to Iowa City.

“I thought obviously this was a tremendous win for us,” Iowa coach Steve Alford
said after the upset. “I think we held them to one point the last four minutes
of the game on their own floor. That is something we really work on.”

Iowa outscored Tulsa 42-30 in the second half to rally back from an eight-point
halftime deficit. Chauncey Leslie’s career-high 21 points paced the Hawkeyes,
who are starting to look like they could be a major sleeper during the
conference season, especially playing tough at home like they always do.

While the Hawkeyes were making their statement in Oklahoma, Tommy Amaker’s
Michigan team was putting together one of its most complete performances in
recent memory. The Wolverines — save for the last five minutes of the game — controlled UCLA at storied Pauley Pavilion en route to an 81-76 win over the Bruins.

Michigan, after an embarrassing 0-6 start, has now reeled off five consecutive
wins and with only games against San Francisco and IUPUI remaining before the
conference schedule, the Wolverines should be 7-6.

It’s been an impressive turnaround for a team that has no chance of postseason
play, and the win on Saturday — Michigan’s first non-conference road win in
three years — was just the type of win that Amaker had been hoping for.

“We feel great,” Amaker said. “Our kids have battled hard all year long. This
is a big win for us to come in here and win against a team like UCLA in Pauley
Pavilion, where it is very difficult to win.”

Hoosiers hoping for end to Davis fiasco

Mike Davis’ outburst at the end of Indiana’s loss to Kentucky cost the team
dearly in that game.

But with a lingering suspension hanging over the Hoosiers’ heads, Indiana does
not appear to be the focused team it was as it stormed out to an 8-0 start.

Case in point — Indiana was overwhelmed by a now 2-6 Temple team on Saturday,
falling to the Owls, 71-64.

Indiana was sluggish the entire time, surprisingly being outrebounded 38-34
while shooting an uncharacteristic 69 percent from the free throw line in the upset
loss.

Star guard Tom Coverdale was almost nonexistent, scoring just nine points on 3-
of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. The Hoosiers also forced a meager seven
Owl turnovers, no doubt a major reason Indiana came away on the losing end.

That wasn’t the only reason though, according to Davis. The Indiana coach felt
his team hadn’t recovered from the emotional end to the Kentucky game, but
questioned why the Big Ten has let the problem remain unresolved.

“I understand what I did wrong,” Davis said. “But am I the first person to do
that?”

Davis ultimately received a one-game suspension from the Big Ten.

Not so Golden Gophers

Somewhere between its fourth win of the season over Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 6
and a devastating loss at Nebraska on Dec. 8, Minnesota lost its way.
The once 4-0, nationally-ranked Golden Gophers have gone 2-3 in their last
five, capped off with an 99-88 overtime loss to Knight and his Texas Tech
ballclub.

In the five-minute overtime session, Minnesota allowed Texas Tech to put up an
astonishing 25 points. A good deal of those points came from the line for the
Red Raiders, but the lack of overtime defense combined with the 90 points the Golden Gophers allowed Oregon in Minnesota’s last loss is cause for concern in Gopher country.

Perhaps even more amazing is that fact that Big Ten Player of the Year
candidate Rick Rickert is no longer the leading scorer for the Golden Gophers.
Rickert’s 14.4 points per game clip is second on the team to the average of guard Maurice
Hargrove (14.8 ppg).

While Dan Monson must be thrilled to see Hargrove’s increased production, as well as the fact that four Golden Gophers are averaging in double figures, there is no doubt concern that Rickert is not leading the team in scoring.

Rickert has taken just 85 shots in the eight games he has played in, just over
a 10 shot per game average. A player of Rickert’s caliber needs to be closer to
the 21 shots he took against Texas Tech than to the nine he took at Oregon when
he fouled out in 15 minutes.

This week in the Big Ten

Indiana’s attempt to get back on track at Ball State on Tuesday and Wisconsin’s
trip into Temple on Thursday highlight the midweek battles.

All 11 teams in the conference play on Saturday.

Michigan State’s prime time matchup on the road at Oklahoma will be the
featured game in the conference Saturday, but Iowa’s hosting of Missouri will
also get some attention.

Also on Saturday — Indiana hosts Charlotte; Penn State hosts Buffalo;
Wisconsin hosts Chicago State; Michigan hosts IUPUI; Minnesota hosts Sacred
Heart; Purdue hosts Montana; Ohio State hosts Louisville; Illinois hosts Oakland;
and Northwestern hosts Long Island.

     

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