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March 30, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, March 30th, 2003

by Phil Kasiecki

Keith Bogans tried. He really tried. But he just didn’t have enough, and part of it was mental, as is often the case with an injury. He lacked the quickness, explosiveness, and body control he normally has, looking nothing like the senior leader who was SEC Player of the Year and the driving force behind the 26-game winning streak Kentucky brought into Saturday’s Midwest regional final against Marquette.

Dwyane Wade stole the show in this one with a triple-double (29 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists), and Marquette shot over 56% from the field en route to an 83-69 win. For good measure, Wade had four blocks as well. He didn’t do it alone, as Robert Jackson had 24 points and 15 rebounds in controlling the paint, and freshman Steve Novak had five three-pointers en route to 16 points.

Bogans had 15 points, but they didn’t come without a major struggle as he shot 4-11 from the field and was a defensive liability. Gerald Fitch also had 15 in the losing effort.

Marquette (27-5) took the game over in the latter part of the first half, finishing on a 35-12 run to take a 19-point lead at the break, and they did not slow down in the second half. Kentucky (32-4) never got closer than 12.

The West regional final in Anaheim was every bit the great matchup it was expected to be, a rematch of an earlier meeting this season. When No. 1 Arizona and No. 2 Kansas met in Lawrence, it was a tale of two halves as Kansas led by 20 at one point and by 13 at the half, only to see Arizona storm back to win going away, 91-74. This time, the Jayhawks got a measure of revenge, holding on for a 78-75 win to advance to the Final Four for the second year in a row and get the program’s 1,800th win.

As in the first game, Kansas (29-7) had big leads in this one, as they led by 16 in the first half before Arizona (28-4) scored the last 13 points of the half to make it 38-35 at halftime, then they led by 14 in the second half before Arizona ran off 16 unanswered points to take the lead at 58-56 with 10:32 to play.

Kansas had foul trouble in the second half, as Aaron Miles picked up his fourth with 10:55 remaining, and Nick Collison picked up his fourth with 8:19 to play, but Kirk Hinrich was the story. He had 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, a nice change from the 1-9 showing he had on Thursday night. But he also got good help from Jeff Graves, who had 13 points and 15 rebounds, making several key plays down the stretch.

Jason Gardner closed out his college career with 23 points, while Luke Walton finished his with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.

In the final seconds, Gardner dribbled up the floor and tried a three-pointer, but Hinrich blocked it. Walton recovered, got it back to Gardner for one last chance near the corner, but it went off the rim and Kansas held on.

Side Dishes

Washington State Hires Bennett: In a move reported earlier in the week, Washington State introduced former Wisconsin head coach Dick Bennett as their next head coach, replacing Paul Graham. Bennett led Wisconsin to the Final Four in 2000, but abruptly retired eight months later. The Cougars went 7-20, 2-16 in the Pac Ten this season.

Georgia Denies Releases to Prospects: The Associated Press reported that Georgia denied requests for releases from national letters of intent from two prospects who signed with the program in November. The stance the school is taking is that they would like Jordan Howell (Madison, AL) and Mohamed Abukar (San Diego, CA) to visit with the new head coach before deciding where they will go, according to associate athletic director Damon Evans. Evans did not know if the school’s three other signees, which include Atlanta native and top 50 prospect Corey Gibbs, have asked to be released to this point.

Kareem May Come Home: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has interviewed with Columbia about their head coaching position and would like to have it. The Hall of Famer grew up in New York before going to UCLA, so it would be a return home for him. Columbia fired head coach Armond Hill after the team went 2-25, the worst season in its 103-year basketball history. They finished the season by losing their last 18 games.

Tonight’s Menu:

Two more teams earn trips to New Orleans to fill out the Final Four.

• The East regional final in Albany features No. 1 Oklahoma taking on No. 3 Syracuse.

• The South regional final in San Antonio features No. 1 Texas taking on No. 7 Michigan State.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Sunday!

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