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February 15, 2003 Columns No Comments




The Morning Dish – Saturday, February 15th, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

Friday nights usually belong to the little guys in college basketball, as most teams from the major conferences are busy preparing for games on Saturday, the busiest day of the week.

With that in mind, we turn our attention to the start of an important weekend in the Ivy League. Two games separated the top four teams entering the weekend, and all four teams are in action against two other teams in the race for the top. Adding to the intrigue is that Ivy League leader Brown had never won at Princeton, and sure enough, that’s where the Bears were on this Valentine’s Day.

But there is a first time for everything, and Brown remained red hot as they won their ninth straight game to improve to 7-0 in Ivy League play with an 80-73 victory in Princeton. The Bears got 18 points from sophomore guard Jason Forte, and Earl Hunt made four free throws in the final 20 seconds to help ice the game, which was close throughout. Princeton got a career-high 22 points from Ed Persia, but was hurt by a leg injury to leading scorer Spencer Gloger with 12:39 left in the game. He had 12 points and did not return.

Not far from there, Yale visited a sold out Palestra with a hot home team. The visitors led 34-33 at the break, but Pennsylvania scored the first six points of the second half to take the lead for good en route to a 68-57 win. Helping to seal the Quakers’ seventh straight win was a nine-minute stretch where Yale did not get a field goal and the lead reached 64-48.

Ugonna Onyekwe led five scorers in double figures with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Koko Archibong had the other double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

This sets up a showdown in Philadelphia on Saturday night, as Brown (12-9) takes on Pennsylvania (14-5) with both teams separated by one half game. Brown is now 7-0 in Ivy League play and Pennsylvania is 6-0.

Side Dishes

Crimson Back On Track: Harvard entered Friday’s home date with Columbia having lost four straight games on the road since a 20-day layoff. Back in the friendly confines of Lavietes Pavilion, Elliott Prasse-Freeman and Jason Norman combined to score nine straight points to fend off a late run by Columbia in a 77-63 victory. Norman started in place of Patrick Harvey, who was ruled academically ineligible earlier in the week. The Lions made a furious comeback, scoring 11 unanswered points as part of a 24-8 run to get within 6 points, before Prasse-Freeman and Norman made the clutch plays.

Gordon Arrested: Connecticut sophomore guard Ben Gordon was arrested Friday on charges that he slapped a female student, who was also arrested for allegedly hitting him. According to the Associated Press, Gordon was released on $1,000 bond and traveled with the team to Villanova for Saturday’s key game against the Wildcats. He will be able to continue playing while the legal process takes its course.

Tonight’s Menu:

• The headline matchup of the day is the showdown in Conference USA between No. 2 Louisville and No. 11 Marquette in Milwaukee. Louisville enters with an 8-1 mark in conference play, while Marquette is 9-1.

• The Big Ten also has a big showdown as Purdue welcomes No. 15 Illinois. The Boilermakers are in a three-way tie with Michigan (hosting Ohio State) and Wisconsin (hosting Indiana) at 7-3 in conference play, while Illinois is not far behind at 6-3.

• The Big East has several matchups of interest, including one in the very tight East Division as No. 21 Connecticut heads to Villanova, with both teams tied at 6-3 atop the East Division. No. 7 Pittsburgh heads to New Jersey to play Seton Hall, while the prime matchup of the day is No. 10 Notre Dame visiting No. 16 Syracuse.

• No. 9 Duke looks to avenge Thursday night’s loss to ACC leader Wake Forest in a road tilt with Virginia, which could use another quality win.

• In the SEC, No. 3 Kentucky hosts slumping LSU, No. 5 Florida welcomes Tennessee, the deep south witnesses a big state school battle as Mississippi heads to Starkville to take on No. 19 Mississippi State, and No. 22 Georgia welcomes Vanderbilt.

• The best matchup in the Big 12 looks to be No. 4 Oklahoma visiting Texas Tech. In other Big 12 action, No. 6 Texas visits Nebraska, Baylor visits No. 13 Oklahoma State, and Kansas State heads to Columbia to take on No. 20 Missouri.

• All of the Pac Ten’s ranked teams are in action, with No. 1 Arizona welcoming USC, Washington at No. 23 California, and Washington State taking on No. 24 Stanford at Palo Alto.

• No. 14 Xavier welcomes Rhode Island in a pivotal game for each team. Xavier wants to remain on a roll, while Rhode Island is trying to keep pace with St. Joseph’s in the Atlantic Ten’s East Division as it enters the day at 7-3 against conference opponents. St. Joseph’s visits Dayton in another big game, as Dayton is 9-1 and St. Joseph’s 8-2 in Atlantic Ten play.

• Proving that there is something for everyone, two mid-major conferences have showdowns among top teams. In the Atlantic Sun, Troy State seeks its 20th win of the season and a two-game lead atop the conference as it visits Mercer. The Southern Conference watches division leaders tangle as College of Charleston seeks its 20th win at Appalachian State, with both teams sporting 9-2 records in conference play.

That’s it for now. Enjoy your Saturday full of great college basketball action!

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