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March 1, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 1st, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

It appears that there will be no changing of the guard in the Ivy League this season. It will have to wait at least another season.

Friday night started a weekend that would likely decide the finish in the Ivy League, as league-leading Pennsylvania brought a ten-game winning streak to Providence for a showdown with second-place Brown, while Princeton entered in third place as they took on Yale in New Haven before heading to Providence for a Saturday night matchup at Brown. It had all the makings of a great weekend, and it started out that way on Friday night.

The Pizzitola Center at Brown was sold out, and the roaring fans made for an atmosphere normally reserved for showdowns in a conference like the Big East. There was a special guest, none other than Brown alum Chris Berman, to fire up the crowd and introduce the Brown players for a game the likes of which they have not had in many years in Providence. Naturally, Berman added his trademark touch, introducing Brown’s first starter, Patrick “Austin” Powers.

In the early going, Penn’s senior frontcourt of Koko Archibong (team-high 17 points on 7-7 shooting) and Ugonna Onyekwe (15 points, 7 rebounds) got the Quakers started by spearheading a run of 11 unanswered points for an early lead. Brown struggled to move the ball, often settling for jump shots and not getting the ball to senior star Earl Hunt very often. With Archibong and Onyekwe leading an attack with 20 points in the paint, and the seniors playing like a poised group, the Quakers led for most of the half and went into the locker room leading 40-38.

Brown struggled early in the second half, not getting the ball to Hunt much in the early going. They would not score until nearly six minutes passed, as Hunt made a layup. But he was just getting started, as the Bears finally got him the ball and their all-time leading scorer went to work. He scored the team’s next eight points en route to scoring 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half. The Quakers had answers for most of the charges Brown made. Archibong made two big three-pointers, the second coming with 4:13 left and putting the Quakers ahead by a 66-57 count. But the Bears would gradually cut into the lead, getting within 66-64 with 2:28 left to play.

The Quakers came through in the closing minutes, like a team that has been there before. They ate the clock, then Andrew Toole made a key runner to make it 68-64 with 1:59 left. Their defense did the rest, as they held on for a 69-65 victory to improve to 18-5 overall and 10-0 in Ivy League play. Brown is now 14-11 overall and 9-2 in league play.

The big stat is that the Quakers shot just under 60% for the game

“Two games in a row against this team, down at the end of the game, they executed,” Brown head coach Glen Miller said after the game. “They’ve won 20 straight Ivy League games now, and they have the best talent in the league, hands down.”

“It was a hard-fought game, no question about it,” Penn head coach Fran Dunphy said.

Dunphy also liked the atmosphere in the context of the Ivy League, and had words of praise for Brown.

“I think it’s great for the league, I think it’s great for Brown basketball, and I think Glen’s doing a terrific job,” Dunphy said.

Side Dishes

Trying to Keep Pace: Princeton remained two games back of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League with a 61-52 win at Yale. Sophomore Judson Wallace had 23 points to lead the Tigers, who held the Bulldogs to 40% shooting and won despite committing 16 turnovers. Princeton is now 14-9 overall and 8-2 in Ivy League play, while Yale falls to 12-12 and 6-5 in league play.

Younger Harrick Suspended: ESPN.com reported that Georgia has suspended assistant basketball coach Jim Harrick, Jr. The school is investigating violations alleged in an ESPN report Thursday by former basketball player Tony Cole that Harrick provided the guard with improper benefits and academic assistance. He will be paid during the suspension, but is precluded from participation in practices and games.

Arkansas Tells Their Side: The University of Arkansas responded to the federal lawsuit filed by former head coach Nolan Richardson, denying that they discriminated against him and denied attempting to stifle his free-speech rights. It said that they fired him because he showed a lack of confidence in the basketball program at the time of his firing. Richardson asks for his job back in the lawsuit, but has since said that he doesn’t want to go back and work under athletic director Frank Broyles and campus chancellor John A. White.

Tonight’s Menu:

• It’s a showdown among teams atop the Pac Ten in Palo Alto, as No. 1 Arizona takes on No. 19 Stanford. The Wildcats will remain in first place regardless of the outcome, but the Cardinal could tighten the race with a win.

• No. 7 Kansas welcomes No. 16 Oklahoma State in a pivotal Big 12 game. Also, No. 5 Texas heads to Lubbock for an in-state battle with Texas Tech, which could use a big win.

• No. 18 Illinois travels to Ann Arbor for a Big Ten showdown with Michigan. The teams are tied atop the Big Ten with a 9-4 record.

• The matchup lacks the luster it normally has, but No. 14 Syracuse takes on Georgetown in Washington, D.C. to headline Big East games on Saturday. No. 11 Notre Dame is on the road as well, taking on Rutgers at the RAC, while surging Boston College tries to remain hot as they get their first look at the new Convocation Center at Miami.

• No. 9 Louisville tries to get back on track, as they welcome an East Carolina team that has lost 11 of their last 13 games. Also, No. 10 Marquette welcomes Alabama-Birmingham, and in perhaps the biggest C-USA matchup of the day, surging Memphis hosts Cincinnati, as both teams look to improve their NCAA Tournament credentials.

• In the ACC, No. 13 Wake Forest hosts Clemson.

• In the SEC, No. 4 Florida heads to Auburn, while No. 20 Mississippi State heads to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas.

• The top Atlantic Ten teams are at home, with No. 12 Xavier welcoming George Washington and Dayton hosting struggling Fordham.

• It’s a day with several mid-major showdowns. The showdown that Missouri Valley fans have waited for all season is here, as No. 17 Creighton visits Southern Illinois. Butler hosts Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a battle for Horizon League supremacy. The lead in Colonial Athletic Association will be on the line as UNC-Wilmington welcomes Virginia Commonwealth. Last, but certainly not least, UC-Irvine puts its half-game lead in the Big West on the line at UC-Santa Barbara.

That’s it for now. March Madness is now right on our doorstep, so enjoy your Saturday!

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