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Mid-Continent Conference Notebook

January 6, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-Continent Conference Notebook

by Matt Amis

On a collision course with the Big Ten Conference, as well as Top-25 mainstays Kansas and Notre Dame, there was a feeling it was going to be a rough weekend in Mid-Continent land.

And despite the best efforts of Valpo and well, the usual efforts of UMKC, the Mid-Con went home empty handed.

Chicago State lost 73-45 to Wisconsin, IUPUI fell 84-79 to Michigan and Oakland dropped an 88-53 decision to Illinois. UMKC also lost, 100-46, to No. 17 Kansas and Valparaiso nearly upset No. 6 Notre Dame, 55-53.

On the bright side, Oral Roberts (9-4) made it a perfect 6-0 mark on its own hardwood Saturday after strapping on its hardhats and outworking Colgate on its way to an ugly 78-54. Reggie Borges led all scorers with 18 points in the win, while Luke Spencer-Gardner tallied 15. The Golden Eagles shot 56 percent from the field, but head coach Scott Sutton can’t be happy with his jump-shooting team’s 28.6 percent from three-point range and season-low 64.5 percent at the free throw line.

Leaving Honolulu for Wisconsin in January can’t be easy. But Chicago State (3-9) received no mercy on the way to its second straight loss, falling to Wisconsin Saturday in Madison. The Cougars trailed 29-21 at the break, but allowed the Badgers to hit 63 percent (15-of-24) from the floor in the second half when Wisconsin outscored Chicago State 44-24. Rubeen Perry led the Cougars with ten points and Derrick Wimmer and Steve Turner each added eight.

Odell Bradley turned in a career-high 26 points, but it wasn’t enough as IUPUI (6-8) fell to Michigan. But conspiracy theorists might wonder if someone is out to get Mid-Con. For the game, IUPUI was whistled for 28 fouls while Michigan was called for just 17. Junior Matt Crenshaw, senior Josh Mullins, Josh Murray and Antoine Lewis all fouled out of the contest. The Jags had just five disqualifications all season entering the game.

The Jaguars, who have lost three straight, opened the second half with a 16-7 run to take a 50-46 lead at the 16 minute mark but foul trouble and poor shooting paved the way for Michigan. Mullins put up 16 points in the loss, while Crenshaw added 12 points and four assists off the bench.

Now this one you knew was going to be ugly. The worst team in one of the weakest conferences in the nation going up against Kansas — the same Kansas who went to the Final Four last year.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when UMKC (1-11) lost by 54 points to No. 17 Kansas Saturday at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Kirk Hinrich led the Jayhawks with 29 points in the win.

The Kangaroos were limited to just 28 percent (16-of-58) from the field for the game, including shooting 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) from the field in the first half. Mike Watson did all he could for UMKC, chipping in 27 points, his 11th 20-plus point effort of the season.

Visiting Oakland (5-6) dropped its third straight in the loss Saturday to No. 11 Illinois. The Golden Grizzlies allowed the Fighting Illini to shoot 60 percent from the floor, including a 67 percent effort from the field in the second half.

Oakland tried its best to maintain Mid-Con pride, and kept the score close in the first half. A basket by Cortney Scott with 9:10 left in the half brought OU to within three at 18-15. However, Illinois quickly gathered itself and pulled away. Rawle Marshall led Oakland with 22 points, while Cortney Scott added eight points and 11 rebounds.

A Valpo upset over No. 6 Notre Dame would have been huge. Head coach Scott Drew may have been able to breathe a little easier and the Crusaders may have regained the consensus as the best Mid-Con team.

The only problem was, Valpo lost.

At the United Center in Chicago, the Crusaders dropped their fourth straight game, despite coming back from a 14-point deficit in the second half. Valpo had an opportunity to win the game in the final seconds, but could not sink the bucket. Greg Tonagel missed a 3-point shot from the right wing and time expired during the scramble for the ball.

Joaquim Gomes led Valparaiso with 17 points, while Raitis Grafs added 12 points and Roberto Nieves contributed 11 points and six rebounds. The Crusaders finished shooting 34 percent (19-of-56), while Mike Brey’s Notre Dame squad shot 44 percent (20-of-46).


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