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February 3, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, February 3rd, 2003

by Andrew Flynn

Who wants to be No. 1? While that question will be answered by our Top 25 poll (released tomorrow), you can’t help but wonder who among today’s elite teams wants to grab that flag and run with it. Arizona loses earlier in the week, so Pitt is primed to take its first No. 1 ranking if they can beat a good Syracuse team. No dice. No. 3 Texas did its job well, snapping the 15-game win streak of Oklahoma State. And the latest victim of indecisiveness is the Duke Blue Devils, who can’t seem to put it together away from Cameron Indoor.

For the third-straight road game, the Blue Devils were bounced, this time at Florida State, 75-70. To add insult to injury (and puff up the Seminoles), the loss was also Duke’s second-consecutive loss at Florida State – a streak any squad would be happy to own. You’ll recall that last year FSU downed Duke by one point to snap their 22-game win streak.

Coming up large late in the game were Seminoles Adam Waleskowski, who slammed home a decisive jam, and Tim Pickett, who drained two free throws to seal the deal in the final minute of action. You want a stat? Florida State – over 60% from the floor, Duke – 35%. Nutshell. Game. Victory.

The game wasn’t just statistics, however, as the result came down to the final minute. Duke pulled within one in the final 30 seconds on a trey by Daniel Ewing, and the Blue Devils fouled on the inbound, giving Tim Pickett his opportunity from the charity stripe. On the subsequent run upcourt, Duke guard Chris Duhon tumbled and lost the ball, allowing for Waleskowsi’s dunk.

Pickett tallied 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists for the Seminoles, and freshman guard Todd Galloway had 13 points, including two free throws late in the game to give FSU a four point lead. Duke’s leading scorer, Dahntay Jones, who was averaging 17.6 points per, only totaled two points on the evening, and then fouled out with two minutes remaining. Freshman J.J. Redick led Duke with 16 points and Nick Horvath added 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Duke, coupled with Maryland’s win over an overmatched Loyola-MD squad, moves to two games behind the Terps in the ACC standings. The Blue Devils are at home for their next two contests, against North Carolina Wednesday, and Clemson on Sunday. The Seminoles have the week off, and next face North Carolina on Saturday.

Side Dishes

Don’t You Forget About Me: The Michigan State Spartans haven’t been feeling the love of late, having tumbled from the heights of being the Preseason No. 10 squad in the land to losing 6 of 8 games in early January. The low point came as rebuilding Michigan ended four years of dominance in extending their win streak to 13 games last weekend. However, the Spartans may have turned the corner, having defeated No. 18 Indiana last week in a convincing fashion, and yesterday downing No. 15 Illinois 68-65. Both Paul Davis and Alan Anderson tallied 15 points for the Green, who at one point in the first half were down by as many as 14. But consistency and an Illini cold spell allowed MSU to catch up, and the Spartans outscored Illinois 9-3 in the final few minutes. There was a bit of controversy at the end of the first half, as Anderson’s trey might not have gotten off before the buzzer, but the officials were unable to review the play, as they are only permitted to review buzzer-beaters at the end of regulation and overtime.

Off a Duck’s Back: Or more like “Fumble!”. No. 21 Oregon likely will fall out of the Top 25 after this weekend’s performance against USC, who dominated the Ducks 91-76 in Los Angeles yesterday. The Trojans and Ducks had split their previous six meetings in sunny LA, but it looked like more of a football game in the rain, as each time had close to 25 turnovers, including Luke Ridnour’s six all by his lonesome. Errick Craven had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Greg Guenther added a career-high 16 points for the Trojans, while Ridnour tallied 21 points and Andre Joseph added 18 for the Ducks, who have fallen from the top 5 on losing 3 of 4 in early January. However, the Ducks had won five straight coming into the game. USC needed the win, as they had lost 6 of their last 8 coming into the contest.

Monday, Monday: It seems that every Monday morning we’re writing about the exploits of Wake Forest’s Josh Howard, now a favorite to win ACC Player of the Year come March. As you can see, today is no different, as Howard notched a career-high 32 points, including the go-ahead three point play in the final minute, as he led the Deacons to a 79-75 win over North Carolina in a tough matchup in Chapel Hill. The first half was the opposite of a great game, with poor-shooting spurts weighing heavily on both squads, as UNC missed 21 of 29 at one point, shooting 29% for the half. Things picked up in the second half, with seven ties in the final ten minutes. All five UNC starters finished in double-digits, but it wasn’t enough.

Bracket Buster Set: In a move to draw maximum attention to a manufactured event, ESPN announced the pairings for its inaugural “Bracket Buster”, set for the weekend of February 22nd. Aside from a pre-determined Gonzaga-Tulsa matchup, the other eight games hadn’t been set until this weekend. In the first game, No. 14 Creighton will face Fresno State, with Kent State versus Hawai’i, Southern Illinois against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Ball State versus Western Kentucky. Other pairings include Northern Iowa facing Louisiana Tech, Illinois State versus Marshall, Bowling Green against Illinois-Chicago, and UC-Santa Barbara facing Detroit. Phil Kasiecki previews the Bracket Buster, which could have featured better matchups.

Tonight’s Menu

Speaking of manufactured events, it’s Big Monday.

• Missouri hits I-70 to face No. 13 Kansas in Lawrence, but they’ll have to bear left in Kansas City. Someone better tell the driver.

• A tough Georgetown squad travels to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse. The Hoyas are hoping that the Orangemen are still hung-over (figuratively) from this weekend’s upset of No. 2 Pittsburgh.

• Conferences collide with Villanova and St. Joseph’s meeting in Philadelphia in an area clash, and of course, there are some late-night Mountain West matchups, as the conference plays a full slate.

That’s it for this Monday. Enjoy!

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