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February 9, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, February 9th, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

Career games seemed to be the order of the day, or at least with a couple of the nation’s better players on Saturday. Not surprisingly, the term “career game” has a slightly different meaning for one than the other.

Dayton rode a nine-game winning streak into Cincinnati as they visited No. 19 Xavier, which entered with a seven-game winning streak of its won. The Musketeers had also won 17 straight games at home against the Flyers, so something had to give. On this day, Dave West was not about to give anything except his very best effort.

The All-American forward had a first half that would be a good game for most, even himself — 22 points and 8 rebounds. He kept Xavier (17-4, 8-1 Atlantic Ten) in the game as his teammates struggled, trailing 39-35 at the half. But he wasn’t finished, as he would go on to shoot 15-26 from the field and 16-19 from the line en route to 47 points, and hauled down 18 rebounds. The Musketeers would go on to win 85-77, handing Dayton (16-4, 8-1 Atlantic Ten) its first conference loss.

Meanwhile, No. 20 Syracuse had career games from two players, but one will grab more headlines than the other. Carmelo Anthony had a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds, while fellow freshman Gerry McNamara had a career-high 12 assists as the Orangemen beat West Virginia, 94-80. Syracuse (16-3, 7-2 Big East) had five players in double figures and held the Mountaineers to 37% shooting.

Side Dishes

Back On Track, Part 1: No. 1 Florida (19-3, 8-1 SEC) rebounded from being blown out at Kentucky on Tuesday night to knock off No. 21 Alabama, 75-56, as the Crimson Tide continues to fall apart. It was the fifth loss in 6 games for Alabama (13-7, 3-6 SEC). With Florida’s loss earlier in the week, No. 2 Arizona (18-2, 10-1 Pac Ten) should return to the top of the rankings, as the Pac Ten leaders knocked off Washington State, 75-62 in Pullman.

Back On Track, Part 2: No. 18 Connecticut (14-5, 5-3 Big East) got back on the winning track with an 84-68 win at Providence. The Huskies, who entered having lost their last two games by a combined 45 points, were short a player in this one as Taliek Brown sat with a broken left index finger. Emeka Okafor led the Huskies with 21 points, while Ben Gordon added 20.

Business As Usual: To the surprise of no one, No. 10 Kansas (17-5, 7-1 Big 12) beat host Kansas State for the 26th straight time on Saturday, this one by a score of 82-64. Kirk Hinrich had the big game, with 28 points on 11-16 shooting.

Top Teams Have It Easy: No. 5 Louisville had no trouble stretching the nation’s longest winning streak to 17 games, as they blew out Houston 81-55. The Cardinals are now 18-1 and 8-0 in Conference USA play. Also winning in a laugher was No. 4 Oklahoma (16-3, 7-1 Big 12), whose 91-42 thrashing of Baylor marked its seventh straight win overall and 17th straight against the Bears.

SEC Teams Keep Winning: No. 7 Kentucky (18-3, 8-0 SEC) won its 12th straight game on Saturday, 80-62 over Mississippi in Oxford, breaking the game open early and leading 44-20 at the half. No. 22 Mississippi State (15-5, 5-4 SEC) had an easy time with visiting Arkansas, 84-54, the most lopsided Bulldog victory in the series since the first ever meeting between the two in 1952.

Upsets Will Happen: There weren’t many upsets on the day, but the most notable was probably Tennessee (13-6, 5-3) knocking off No. 16 Georgia (13-6, 5-3 SEC), 78-72, in Knoxville. (Can that really be called an upset, with the home team winning and the teams now having idential records?) Also, Michigan State (13-8, 5-4 Big Ten) continued to turn things around with a overtime win over No. 25 Indiana (14-8, 4-5 Big Ten) in Bloomington, the second win over the Hoosiers in eleven days. The Spartans have now won three straight, while the Hoosiers have dropped five in a row.

Heated Rivalry: While it is a more noted rivalry on the gridiron, No. 3 Texas and Texas A&M showed that they can carry the rivalry into to the hardwood. Tempers flared a couple of times as it was a physical game, with Texas (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) winning by a 95-87 count. It overshadowed the Aggies’ Bernard King becoming the Big 12’s career leading scorer on a free throw with 11:48 left, as it gave him 1,831 points. He otherwise struggled, shooting just 1-12 and scoring 10 points.

King James puts on a Show: LeBron James did not disappoint the many who came to see him at the Prime Time Shootout in Trenton, NJ. With a sellout crowd watching, James nearly outscored the opposing team all by himself, netting a career-high 52 points as Akron (OH) St. Vincent-St. Mary blew out Los Angeles (CA) Westchester by a score of 78-52. UCLA-bound forward Trevor Ariza led Westchester with 12 points.

Tonight’s Menu

• The ACC has a busy slate with three games, as well as a non-conference matchup with two Top 25 teams. No. 8 Maryland heads south to take on Georgia Tech, No. 11 Duke hosts slumping Clemson, and North Carolina State heads to Charlottesville for a matchup with Virginia. No. 15 Wake Forest ventures outside the conference as they take on No. 14 Marquette in Milwaukee.

• On the journey to the Rose Bowl, Ohio State hits the road to take on No. 17 Illinois. Meanwhile, No. 24 Stanford finishes its road swing in Oregon as they take on Oregon State.

• No. 12 Oklahoma State heads to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats, who enter having lost three straight.

• Today is the last day of the Prime Time Shootout. Stay tuned for a recap tomorrow.

That’s it for this Sunday. Enjoy!

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