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Championship Week Results

June 15, 2003 Columns No Comments

Sunday, March 16th, 2003
ACC Finals
recap by Michael Protos

No. 3 Duke 84, No. 4 NC State 77

Behind a sensational second-half comeback, the 3rd-seeded Duke Blue Devils captured their fifth consecutive ACC tournament championship by beating 4th-seeded NC State 84-77.

The Wolfpack had upset on their minds in an attempt to ensure their place in the Big Dance. Failure to do places them at the mercy of the selection committee. But life was good for the Pack with just under twelve minutes to go in the second half when they 55-40. What are the odds Duke would be able to double their score in ten minutes?

Yet again, March Madness strikes. Freshman guard J.J. Redick went nuts in the final ten minutes of play, scoring 23 of his 30 points in the last quarter of the championship game. So in the final ten minutes, the score was: Redick 23, NC State 22.

But Redick was not alone. Sophomore guard Daniel Ewing and senior guard Dahntay Jones helped the Blue Devils complete the comeback. Ewing scored eleven points in the game while Jones added eighteen.

For NC State, sophomore forward Josh Powell scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds, seven of those being offensive rebounds. NC State out-rebounded Duke by two but committed five more turnovers than Duke. The critical difference for State was that sophomore guard and team leader Julius Hodge could not play at full tilt because of foul trouble. Junior forward Marcus Melvin and Powell also finished with four fouls, which prevented them from playing at the same intensity that build the fifteen-point lead. Hodge finished with seventeen points and twelve rebounds, but it was not enough for victory.

Congratulations to the Blue Devils for winning three hard-fought contests in three days to cut down the ACC nets for the fifth consecutive year.

SEC Finals
recap by Rainer Sabin

Kentucky Finishes off Perfect Season

When it was all over, there was no surprise. Eleven teams had come to New Orleans, but only one seemed likely to take home the crown-Kentucky. And the Wildcats did not disappoint. On Sunday, Kentucky extended its winning streak to 23 games with a 64-57 victory over Mississippi State and made a little history in the process.

Kentucky won its 24th SEC tournament championship and became the first team since the 1952 Wildcats to go undefeated in the conference. “We are really pleased and it is a real honor to win this tournament,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. “It was a great challenge for us against a very talented Mississippi State team. Mississippi State really had our work cut out for us. I couldn’t be more proud of our young men and how hard they worked today and how they kept their composure and stay poised when things weren’t going well for us. It has been a good tournament.”

Led by Keith Bogans, the SEC Player of the Year and tournament MVP, the Wildcats were able to pull away from the Bulldogs in the second half. Down 31-30 at halftime, Bogans, who scored 22 points, helped the Wildcats build a lead in the final period. He stroked a couple of three-pointers and sealed the victory in the end with some clutch free throws.

However, the outcome was very much in doubt until the final minutes. Mississippi State’s Winsome Frazier buried a three-pointer with 2:42 remaining that cut the Wildcats’ once-comfortable lead to one point, 56-55. However, Mississippi State could not take advantage of its ensuing opportunities. Still trailing by one, Mario Austin, who scored just nine points, missed a pair of free throws that would have given the Bulldogs the lead. Instead, Mississippi State was forced to watch Kentucky finish the game with an 8-2 run and prolong its winning streak.

However, the Bulldogs can take solace in the fact that they will be playing in the Big Dance, while Kentucky will try to finish up an already great season with a bang.

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