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March 10, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, March 10th, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

The last full day with regular season games was a wild one, and none exemplified the day more than the classic rivalry matchup between visiting No. 10 Duke and North Carolina.

North Carolina started the season fast, winning the Preseason NIT. But the Tar Heels were unable to sustain their early play, especially when Sean May went down with a broken foot. They struggled in ACC play, but salvaged the season with a wild 82-79 win over Duke.

This game was back-and-forth, with over 20 lead changes. 12 of those lead changes came in the first 12:11, and North Carolina held a six-point lead at the half. They shot 61% from the field in the half and made 18 of their first 26 shots. The Tar Heels scored five straight points to break a 72-72 tie, then sealed the game in the final 24 seconds by making 5 of 6 free throws. Dahntay Jones had a chance, and actually made a halfcourt heave, but time had expired before he got the shot off.

Rashad McCants led North Carolina (16-14, 6-10 ACC) with 26 points, while Duke (21-6, 11-5 ACC) was led by Jones with 22 and Shelden Williams with 20.

But those are just the basics. Now for the story.

With 8:17 left and the game tied at 63, Jones elbowed Tar Heel freshman Raymond Felton on a follow shot. Felton went down as the elbow drew blood, but play continued and Jones got the go-ahead basket. North Carolina head coach Matt Doherty came over to see if Felton was all right, and helped him to his feet, at which time Duke assistant coach Chris Collins began a shouting match with Doherty.

A pushing and shoving match ensued, with Duke reserve guard Andre Buckner leaving the bench and pushing Doherty. After that, things calmed down for the final minutes.

Side Dishes

Terps Fall, Still Take Second: Virginia finished the season with an 80-78 upset of No. 14 Maryland in overtime. Travis Watson led the Cavaliers with 26 points and 15 rebounds in his final home game. The win gives Virginia (15-14, 6-10 ACC) sixth place in the ACC, and they avoided having to play in the first game of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte this week. Maryland finishes the regular season at 19-8 overall and 11-5 in ACC play, good for second place.

Another Season, Another Big 12 Title: No. 6 Kansas became the only team to defeat Missouri in Columbia this season, taking home a 79-74 decision on Sunday. The Jayhawks got 20 points each from seniors Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich, but needed two three-pointers as the shot clock expired in the final 1:20 to pull out the win. The Jayhawks (24-6, 14-2 Big 12) get a bye to the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, while the Tigers (18-9, 9-7 Big 12) must play on the first day against last-place Nebraska.

Just Not Enough Bodies: It was a spirited effort, but Villanova fell short against No. 7 Pittsburgh, 56-54 despite having just seven players dressed. The Wildcats were short-handed as a result of suspensions handed out recently for players allegedly making unauthorized phone calls. The Panthers (23-4, 13-3 Big East) led by 14 at the half, but the Wildcats fought back in the second half.

Taking Care of Business At Home: No. 12 Syracuse capped a perfect season at home with an 83-74 win over Rutgers at the Carrier Dome behind 30 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists from Carmelo Anthony. The Orangemen (23-4, 13-3 Big East) finish the season 17-0 at home, and the win was the 1,600th in the program’s history. Rutgers finished a dismal season at 12-16 overall and failed to make the Big East Tournament due to a 4-12 conference record that landed them in the West Division basement.

Almost There: No NCAA Tournament bids went out today, but several conferences had semifinal action. Among them is the Missouri Valley Conference, where No. 18 Creighton (28-4) advanced to the championship game against Southern Illinois. Be sure to follow all of the action during Championship Week right here.

President Resigns, Three on Administrative Leave: The fallout from the controversy at St. Bonaventure has begun, as president Robert Wickenheiser resigned after the university’s board of trustees unanimously sought Wickenheiser’s resignation. The board also placed athletic director Gothard Lane, head coach Jan van Breda Kolff, and assistant coach Kort Wickenheiser (the president’s son) on administrative leavem pending review of the program. Lane has already been notified that his contract will not be renewed once it expires May 31.

Tonight’s Menu:

It’s all tournament action from here on out, save for one game on Tuesday night, so make sure you check the latest recaps during Championship Week.

• Four more automatic bids go out tonight, highlighted by the rubber game between No. 18 Creighton and Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley championship.

• Championship games will be played in the Colonial Athletic Association (Drexel vs. UNC-Wilmington), Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (Fairfield vs. Manhattan), and West Coast Conference (San Diego vs. Gonzaga).

• Conferences that continue tournament play include the America East, Sun Belt and Mid-Continent, all of which have semifinal games.

• The Atlantic Ten, Southland and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference begin their conference tournaments.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Championship Monday!

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