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November 30, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, November 30th

Champions: The championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout figured to be a good game, and it didn’t disappoint. Purdue held the Blue Devils to 38% shooting and shot 49% en route to a 78-68 upset of No. 2 Duke to win the Great Alaska Shootout. Tournament MVP Kenneth Lowe led the Boilermakers (4-0) with 22 points, while Chris Booker had 20 points and 5 assists. Duke (3-1) was led by Luol Deng and Shelden Williams with 15 points apiece, while Williams added 13 rebounds.

Starting On a Low Note: It took overtime, but Iowa pulled off the upset of No. 20 Louisville, 70-69, in the John Wooden Tradition. The Hawkeyes (3-0) got a late free throw from Pierre Pierce and a career-high 26 points from Greg Brunner, but mainly won the game by beating Louisville up on the glass by a 45-27 margin. The Cardinals (0-1) lost the season opener for the third straight season despite four players scoring in double figures, led by Luke Whitehead with 18 and 14 rebounds.

Starting On a High Note: For a while, Ben Howland’s debut at UCLA didn’t look too good. UCLA’s defense did nothing to stop Vermont star forward Taylor Coppenrath, who tied his career-high with 38 points, and the Catamounts led by 11 at one point. The Bruins would come back to tie it, but Vermont didn’t stop applying the pressure. With 4.8 seconds left, Ryan Hollins made one free throw to give the Bruins a 68-67 win in Howland’s debut as UCLA head coach.

Fast Start, Then Hold On To Win: Indiana looked like it would run away with Saturday’s game against No. 23 Xavier in Indianapolis, but needed overtime to score an 80-77 upset of the Musketeers. The Hoosiers (2-1) shot nearly 58% from the floor in the first half and led 38-24, but Xavier (3-2) came back and eventually took the lead as Indiana went ice cold. The Hoosiers need a late three-point play by Bracey Wright (game-high 27 points) to tie the game, and Wright scored eight more points in the extra session.

Spartans Win Big: At the Coca-Cola Spartan Classic, No. 7 Michigan State missed its first seven shots, then got going once birthday boy Shannon Brown got into the game. The freshman guard had three big dunks en route to 12 points on 6-10 shooting, helping the Spartans go on to a 77-52 win over Pennsylvania. Brown was one of three Spartans in double figures, as junior Kelvin Torbert had 15 points and classmate Chris Hill had 13, and the Spartans won the battle on the glass by a 39-26 margin despite going with a small lineup often. Tim Begley led all scorers with 17 points for Pennsylvania (1-2). The Spartans will face DePaul in the championship game on Sunday, as the Blue Demons (3-0) beat Indiana State, 78-66.

Near Misses: A couple of Top 25 games came down to the wire on Saturday. No. 4 Missouri had a close call on the road before finally knocking off Oakland, 90-85. The Tigers (1-0) trailed on a couple of occasions, and still didn’t put Oakland away after scoring machine Mike Helms (21 points) fouled out with over eight minutes remaining. Oakland (2-4) was led by Rawle Marshall’s game-high 27 points.

Also hitting the road was No. 8 North Carolina, and the Tar Heels had to rally by scoring the final 10 points of the game to beat upset-minded Cleveland State, 82-76. Cleveland State (2-1) led by four on two occasions, including 76-72 in the final minutes, before the Tar Heels (3-0) rallied to take the game.

No. 16 St. Joseph’s needed a long three-pointer by Jameer Nelson as the shot clock ran down in the final seconds to secure a 75-72 win at Old Dominion. Nelson led the Hawks (3-0) with 24 points as the Hawks played their third straight road game to start the season.

Climb Up On My Back: Ronny Turiaf was all No. 12 Gonzaga needed in overtime. He scored all 11 of the Bulldogs’ points and made two key plays at the defensive end in the extra session to help Gonzaga beat Georgia, 82-76 in Spokane, Washington. Turiaf finished the game with 22 points to lead Gonzaga (3-1), while Rashad Wright led Georgia (2-1) with 21 points and sat for just one minute of the game.

Not Even Close: A few Top 25 teams made it look easy on Saturday. No. 11 Texas (3-0) blew out Centennary, 94-59 in Austin. No. 19 Wake Forest (3-0) had four players score in double figures and won in just about every statistical category in beating Yale, 86-61 in Bridgeport, CT. No. 21 Cincinnati (3-0) coasted to a 76-56 home win over Coppin State.

Cruising To Victory: No. 13 Illinois (3-0) jumped out to leads of 18-5 and 27-7 early and never looked back in a 75-60 win over Temple. No. 15 Wisconsin (3-0) won its 15th straight home game, 55-43 over Rutgers. No. 17 Notre Dame (2-0) scored a 78-64 home win against Mt. St. Mary’s.

Downright Shocking: A mid-major team pulling off a win over a high-major team is nothing new, but Saturday had one such instance that went a little beyond a simple upset. Murray State dominated Southern Mississippi, 94-54, in Murray, Kentucky on Saturday to improve to 4-0. The Racers shot 62% from the field and scored 58 points in the second half.

Tonight’s Menu

• Rhode Island travels to No. 6 Syracuse to take on the defending national champs at the Carrier Dome.

• No. 7 Michigan State hosts DePaul in the championship game of the Coca-Cola Spartan Classic in East Lansing.

• No. 18 Stanford hits the road to take on Rice, while Michigan heads south to take on Butler in Indianapolis.

• In games of local interest, Cal State-Northridge takes on USC in Los Angeles, while Northern Iowa travels to Ames to take on Iowa State and Charlotte takes on UNC-Asheville on the road.

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