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January 29, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, January 30th, 2003

by Brian Seymour

Never let it be said that Hoopville is above (or below) hyping Robert Montgomery Knight’s race to 800 career victories, as the legendary (or infamous) coach won No. 799 on Wednesday, a 66-56 decision for Texas Tech over Colorado. Knight’s Red Raiders go for the historic 800th win Saturday at Texas A&M. Andre Emmitt’s 19 led Texas Tech, which upped its mark to 12-4 overall, 2-3 in the Big 12.

Meanwhile, in other matters Knight-related, the Big 12’s investigation of the timekeeping fiasco in Texas Tech’s loss last week to Oklahoma led the conference to conclude that human error was likely to blame in the Sooners getting an extra 1.6 seconds to make the game-tying shot in regulation.

As a result of the review, the Big 12 is mandating that officials use wireless pack technology (whatever that is) to start the clock in the final minute of regulation and overtimes. Also, Oklahoma is replacing the person responsible for operating the clock at OU home games, though the man is contracted by the university and is not an employee of the university.

As you might expect, The General has an opinion on all of this.

“There is too much at stake, and the consequences too great for the school and the other team if something goes wrong with the clock, as poorly as it was handled in our game against Oklahoma,” Knight said Monday in the league’s weekly conference call with media. “I don’t think with all that’s at stake in games today, that the clock should be handled by someone that’s an employee of the institution. I’ve always felt that way.”

For those of you keeping score at home, according to the Associated Press, the person who keeps the clock at Texas Tech home games is a Tech employee.

Side Dishes

One streak ends, others continue: Brian Cook’s 26 second-half points rallied No. 15 Illinois to a 67-60 victory over Michigan, ending the Wolverines win streak at 13. Illinois trailed by as many as 11 early in the second half, but an untimely technical foul on Michigan’s Bernard Robinson Jr. led to Cook sinking four straight free throws and cutting Illinois’ deficit to 51-50, from which point it was pretty much all Illini.

Meanwhile, the longest streaks in the nation were extended quite easily. No. 10 Oklahoma State’s win streak was pushed to 15 games with a 68-55 triumph over Iowa State and No. 8 Louisville’s winning streak reached 14 games after a 94-65 whitewashing of Southern Mississippi.

Speaking of the Magnolia State: Rivals Mississippi and No. 19 Mississippi State played one of the evening’s most exciting contests, a 58-57 win for MSU, thanks to Derrick Zimmerman’s layup with 1.5 seconds left. Mississippi had just taken its first lead of the second half after Emmanuel Wade converted a three-point play with six seconds remaining, but Zimmerman dribbled the length of the floor and attacked the basket for the winning bucket. Mario Austin scored 16 points for the Bulldogs (13-4, 3-3), who won their third straight to claw back into the race for the SEC West title. Justin Reed’s 17 points led Mississippi.

Georgia only ranked team to fall: No. 16 Georgia was the only Hoopville Top 25 squad to suffer a defeat after dropping a 94-91 decision to Vanderbilt in Nashville, the 44th loss in 56 games for Georgia at Vandy. Matt Freije scored a career-high 31 points for the Commodores (9-8, 2-4), who halted a three-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Georgia lost for only the second time in its last 13 games and fell to 12-5, 4-2. Ezra Williams scored 18 points for Georgia.

Key loss for Bearcats: Cincinnati has won or shared the regular-season Conference USA crown in every season of the league’s existence, as impressive an active streak as exists in college basketball. It’s a bit early to know for sure, but it’s looking like that string of dominance could be coming to an end. Cincinnati dropped its first conference game on the road to DePaul, 56-52, putting the Bearcats (13-4 overall, 6-1) in a tie for second place in American Division with Marquette, one half game behind Louisville (6-0). The loss to the Blue Demons (11-6, 3-3) puts even more emphasis on the next two games for Cincinnati if it is going to extend that streak — at home Saturday against Marquette and at Louisville on Feb. 5.

Zips work overtime — again: These multiple overtime, 100-plus point games are getting to be old hat for Akron. The Zips broke a four-game losing streak with a 101-100 double overtime victory over Northern Illinois, the third overtime game in eight conference contests for Akron and the third time they’ve reached the 100-point threshold in those games. Akron is 2-1 in OT this season.

Tonight’s Menu

A typically light Thursday evening of action — only five Top 25 squads in action, including three in the Pac 10. No one will blame you for watching “Must See TV” instead of hoops. You have my permission. But should you not be able to resist the pull of the roundball…

• Certainly, one of the most intriguing games of the evening finds major mid-major program Butler facing No. 7 Duke in a nationally televised contest from Durham, N.C.

• The top two teams in the ACC — No. 9 Maryland and upstart North Carolina State — meet at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md.

• The top team in all the land will likely face a tough battle as Stanford comes calling to Tucson, Ariz. to face No. 1 Arizona.

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