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January 12, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, January 12th, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

The SEC emerged from non-conference play as quite likely the strongest conference due to its depth, and on Saturday that was on display in six excellent matchups, most of which came down to the wire. The football season was crazy in the SEC, but that will pale in comparison if Saturday is any indicator.

Starting off is No. 11 Florida hosting No. 23 Georgia. Florida freshman sensation Anthony Roberson and Georgia’s junior All-America candidate Jarvis Hayes had a terrific shooting match that ended with Roberson’s fallaway three-pointer over Hayes from the top of the key at the buzzer to give the Gators a 66-63 victory over the Bulldogs. Roberson led Florida (13-2, 2-0 SEC) with 23 points on 8-13 shooting, including 7-10 on three-pointers. Hayes had 25 points on 9-15 shooting, including 6-8 on three-pointers, to lead Georgia (13-2, 1-1 SEC).

Later, LSU shot a scorching 62.7% from the field to knock off No. 6 Mississippi State, 85-72, in their second win over a top ten team this season and handing the Bulldogs their second straight loss. It isn’t often that a team loses while shooting nearly 47% like Mississippi State (10-3, 0-2 SEC) did in this one, but the same defense that won several big games earlier in the season couldn’t stop LSU (11-2, 1-1 SEC). Jamie Lloreda (19 points, 9 rebounds), Ronald Dupree (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Torris Bright (17 points, 10 assists, 7-7 from the field) led a balanced attack for the Tigers. Timmy Bowers and Mario Austin each had 17 points, but Austin was not at his best after being hobbled by a sore knee from a collision on Tuesday night.

Closing it out was Vanderbilt holding off No. 4 Alabama for a 70-69 win in Nashville. The Commodores shot nearly 57% from the field to win despite committing 17 turnovers. Alabama (11-2, 1-1 SEC) got an instant boost from the debut of freshman Kennedy Winston (14 points) to complement Mo Williams’ game-high 23 points, but All-American Erwin Dudley had just 9 points and 9 rebounds as he only took 7 shots from the field.

In other games, No. 21 Kentucky (11-3, 2-0 SEC) held South Carolina to just under 39% shooting to knock off the Gamecocks, 62-55. Tennessee nipped Mississippi, 66-64, ending the Rebels’ 20-game home winning streak. Auburn (13-2, 2-0 SEC) continues their good start with a 52-37 win at Arkansas in a game where offense was optional: the teams combined for 47 turnovers and shot just under 36% from the field.

Side Dishes

Another Competitive Conference: Not to be outdone too much, the Big Ten saw its share of good matchups on Saturday that featured two upsets. Iowa (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) got a career-high 29 points from junior Glen Worley and made seven free throws in the final minute to hold off No. 18 Michigan State (9-5, 1-1 Big Ten), 68-64 in Iowa City. Ohio State shut down the perimeter attack of No. 15 Indiana (11-3, 1-1 Big Ten) in their 81-69 win, as they held the Hoosiers to 38% shooting from the field, including just 9 of 34 three-pointers. No. 12 Illinois (12-1, 2-0 Big Ten) got a career-high 31 points and 9 rebounds from Brian Cook in their 69-63 home win over Wisconsin (10-4, 0-2 Big Ten). Michigan (9-6, 2-0 Big Ten) continued its hot streak with their ninth straight win, 66-53 over Penn State in Ann Arbor.

Yet Another Competitive Conference: The Big 12 had a full slate on Saturday, without as much drama as other conferences. The headline was Kansas State (10-4, 1-0 Big 12) holding No. 22 Texas Tech (10-2, 0-1 Big 12) to just 26% shooting in a 68-44 blowout. Bob Knight picked up his first technical foul as head coach of the Red Raiders in that game. Baylor (9-3, 0-1 Big 12) gave No. 13 Missouri (10-1, 1-0 Big 12) a good battle, but in the end Arthur Johnson’s career day (career-high 30 points and 15 rebounds) lifted the Tigers to a 77-69 win. No. 9 Oklahoma (10-2, 1-0 Big 12) held serve with their 30th straight home win, a 69-54 decision over Colorado (10-4, 0-1 Big 12). No. 14 Kansas (11-3, 2-0 Big 12) also held serve with a 92-59 romp over visiting Nebraska, and No. 8 Texas (10-2, 1-0 Big 12) had an easy time with visiting Iowa State (10-3, 0-2 Big 12), 70-50.

Unfriendly Confines Out West: No. 10 Oregon did not find the Bay Area to its liking the last couple of days, especially on Saturday when they went to Palo Alto to take on a depleted Stanford team. The Ducks lost their second straight, this one an 81-57 thumping thanks largely to shooting just 33% from the field. Oregon (10-4, 1-3 Pac Ten) was killed on the glass, 43-22, and allowed Stanford (11-4, 2-1 Pac Ten) to shoot 50%.

Working Overtime: In recent years, No. 3 Connecticut and Miami have formed a an interesting rivalry, with the Hurricanes scoring several upset wins and being tough on the road. Saturday was another good matchup between the two, as it took overtime for the Huskies to knock off the pesky Hurricanes, 83-80. Miami took advantage of Emeka Okafor sitting with foul trouble, as they got a lot of points in the paint that teams normally don’t get with Okafor in the game. Darius Rice (28) and James Jones (26) were the big beneficiaries, but Okafor had the final say as he made several key plays in the extra session. The Huskies are now 10-1 and 1-0 in Big East play.

Not Really An Upset, But Notable: The Conference USA landscape wasn’t dotted by upsets like some other conferences, as No. 24 Marquette (10-3, 2-1 C-USA) blew out a very short-handed South Florida team that finished with its only available players on the floor and No. 25 Louisville (10-1, 2-0 C-USA) handled St. Louis. But Memphis, a team with NCAA aspirations and on the outside looking in with the top 25, lost to Southern Miss, 84-67. The big stat of the game: Memphis (10-3, 1-1 C-USA) made just 7 of 20 free throws.

Mid-Major Scene: Jeff Lebo is doing it again. After the great job he did in building Tennessee Tech, Lebo now has UT-Chattanooga off to an 11-3 start after their 78-68 road win against College of Charleston. Also, Butler improved to 13-1 with a 76-68 win over Detroit, and Bowling Green ended Kent State’s record streak of 17 consecutive Mid-American Conference wins in their 78-74 win over the Golden Flashes.

Tonight’s Menu:

• The Big East is by far the busiest conference on this light Sunday with three games. No. 7 Pittsburgh heads to New Jersey to take on a Rutgers team that has been tough at home, while No. 5 Notre Dame hosts Seton Hall as they try to bounce back from Monday night’s loss to the Panthers. West Virginia heads to the nation’s capital to take on Georgetown in the other matchup.

• An early ACC showdown takes place in Durham, as No. 1 Duke welcomes No. 19 Wake Forest. After this game, there will be just one undefeated team left in the nation.

• Pepperdine heads north for an early West Coast Conference showdown with Gonzaga.

That’s it for this Sunday. Enjoy!

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