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Sun Belt Notebook

January 4, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Sun Belt Notebook

by Andria Wenzel

New Mexico State needs Moore

Since the return of James Moore from academic suspension on Dec. 15, the New Mexico State Aggies have been unbearable as well as unbeatable for most opponents. The Aggies have gone 3-1 since Moore’s return, the lone loss being by just one point to Texas Tech, 85-84.

With two seconds left in the game at Texas Tech, Allen Haynes of NMS had the opportunity to tie the score but missed his second free throw, and the Red Raiders were able to find their way to the rebound. The loss proved just how valuable Moore is to the Aggies. After tallying up three quick fouls in the first half, Moore was only able to play four minutes. He returned in the second half to bring the Aggies back from a 19-point deficit, netting 17 of his 19 points in the final 20 minutes. Haynes had 18 points and Brandon Mason had 20 for NMS. The Aggies had no answer for Andre Emmett, who had 30 points for the Red Raiders.

In Moore’s return on Dec 15, he put on a show in front of a crowd of 17,870 at the PIT against intrastate rival, the University of New Mexico. Moore did not disappoint in his highly anticipated return, scoring 22 points, bringing down nine rebounds and finishing with four blocks in 29 minutes of work in the Aggies 72-60 win over the Lobos.

NMS also hammered the University of Texas-El Paso 80-58 on Dec 18. The Aggies rode the back of Moore and the bench, Moore finishing with 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks, while the reserves tallied up 32 points.

In the Aggies latest win Moore helped head coach Lou Henson reach the milestone of 750 wins in a 24 -point performance. The 66-51 win over the University of Texas Arlington made Henson the fourth-winningest active coach in Division I with a record of 750-379.

The Zach Attack

The University of Arkansas Little Rock Trojans are resting at 7-4 despite having their winning streak broken in a 70-54 loss to Southern Mississippi on Dec. 21.

UALR couldn’t purchase a hoop, shooting a miserable 36 percent from the field. But the real story for the Trojans has been sophomore guard Nick Zachery. He had 17 points in the loss to Southern Miss., but was the backbone of the Trojans’ two wins over the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Southeast Missouri State.

Zachery scored 21 points in the 83-71 win over UAPB and then followed with 16 points against Southeast Missouri State. Junior forward Jake Yancey has also made his presence known, recording double figures in both games.

Lonely at the Top

The University of North Texas may be struggling this season at 4-5, but senior guard Chris Davis is doing everything possible and more to keep his team competitive in Div. I action. The senior could possibly break the Mean Green’s all-time scoring record and continues to inch toward it.

Davis was the court magician with 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in the 87-71 loss to Colorado. He can only be faulted for failing to elevate the rest of his team to play his caliber of ball. In a 75-60 loss to Tennessee Tech, UNT was out rebounded 44-29, while Davis finished with 17 points and six rebounds.

Good things come to those who wait

One could only ponder how long it would take junior guard Johnell Smith to be inserted into the University of New Orleans starting five. After consistently outscoring the Privateers regular starters, (excluding leading scorer Hector Romero), Smith finally got his chance to play with the starting five in the Adidas Festival at the University of Hawaii.

Romero had a career-high 38-point sand 14 rebounds as he overshadowed Smith’s first start in the 79-75 win over Cal Poly. Smith did not go unnoticed though, scoring 16 points.

The Privateers then went on to lose the following game to Hawaii, 68-56 despite Romero’s 25 -point effort and all-tournament performance. Without Smith the UNO bench was outscored for the first time in the season (17-8), and Smith had 15 points in his second start.

Remembering good times

It was only two months ago that Western Kentucky University was predicted to be in the tournament of 64 and the Hilltoppers were making the top 25 in pre season polls. Good thing the games are actually played, maybe not for WKU though. The 5-4 Hilltoppers traveled west and fell 70-57 to the University of the Pacific on Dec. 23, but did previously tear St. Francis apart, 80-45.

The three game winning streak of WKU was snapped at Alex. G. Spanos Center as the Hilltoppers shot 38 percent for the night. Earlier on WKU beat Illinois State 63-43 and Southern Miss 64-54. Senior forward Nate Williams has been rock solid, averaging 17 points in the last four games.

Summing up the rest of the Sun Belt . . .

• The University of Denver (6-5) went on a 13-3 run while scoring enough to fetch a third place win over Duquesne 49-48 in the San Juan shootout on Dec. 22. The Pioneers suffered an early loss in the tournament to Auburn, 63-58.

• Without Junior Matias, the Golden Panthers of Florida International are struggling to find a rhythm. Lost without their playmaker that has been out with a groin injury, the 4-5 Panthers dropped a 72-57 contest to DePaul and lost huge to Washington 83-48. Al Harris and Eulis Baez have been trying to pick up the slack for the missing Matias

• In the 10th annual EA Sports Golden Bear Classic on Dec21, the Louisiana-Lafayette Cajuns fell 77-61. Cal’s defense forced the Cajuns (5-3) into 21 turnovers and brought their four game winning streak to an end.

• The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee may only be 4-7 but they did set a school record in a 74-57 win over Christian Brothers on Dec. 18. Senior William Pippen came off the bench to score 32 pints as MTSU tinkered with their fifth starting lineup of the season. Pippen was the first Blue Raider in almost three years to reach the 30-point mark.

• Georgia defeated South Alabama (4-4) 94-82 on Dec. 18 despite the inspiring performances of Henry Williams and Chris Young who had 18 points apiece in the loss.


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