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December 3, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Wednesday, December 3rd

Carolina downs Illini: Despite a plethora of turnovers and a sub-par effort from its star point guard, the Illinois Fighting Illini still had a chance late to steal a victory away from North Carolina. But terrible free throw shooting, where the Illini went seven of 18, cost the representative from the Big Ten in an 88-81 loss. In a see-saw battle, North Carolina countered every Illini run with big man Sean May. May, who missed last season with a broken foot, finished the game with 23 points and 14 rebounds and downright dominated the skinnier Illini big men. The Illini’s lack of a consistent post game put the pressure firmly on the team’s backcourt. Guard Deron Williams responded, dropping 22 points on the Tarheels. His backcourt mate Dee Brown, however, did not play up to his usual standard, missing numerous shots. Credit new head coach Roy Williams with devising a solid game plan to neutralize the ultra-quick and dangerous Brown. Williams alternated quicker and bigger defenders on Brown fronting him for the majority of the game. The win was the first “big game” win in the Williams’ era.

Wake crushes Indiana: It didn’t take long for Wake Forest to pick apart Indiana Tuesday night. The Demon Deacons, behind freshman Chris Paul, cruised to a 100-67 win, including a dominating 51-29 first half. The Deacons had 10 first half steals en route to forcing 22 turnovers for the game, which was the key to the rout. The margin of victory was the largest in any game in the five-year old ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Paul had 20 points, eight assists and five steals in the win. Eric Williams added a career-high 25 points, as Wake is a perfect 5-0 in Challenge games. Indiana played the game without starting center George Leach, although it is unlikely it would have matterred. Leach’s replacement, freshman Patrick Ewing Jr., finished with nine points and eight rebounds. The Hoosiers had a terrible time hanging onto the ball, and really only sophomore sensation Bracey Wright played well, scoring 27 points.

Maryland trips Wisconsin: The ACC extended its lead in the Challenge to 4-1 with an overtime win by Maryland late Tuesday night. The Terps and Badgers played a defensive battle, ending in Maryland’s 73-67 win. It looked as though Wisconsin was going to steal the win on the road when Mike Wilkinson hit a three-pointer with just more than 11 seconds remaining to give Wisky a one-point lead. But the Terps forced overtime on a D.J. Strawbery (yes, the son of famed Met outfielder Daryl Strawberry) free throw. In overtime, it was Jamar Smith, who owned the paint, scoring a career-high 25 points in the game.

Valpo not much of a challenge for Cincy: Any team brave enought to schedule Valporaiso as a road opponent deserves some respect. The Cincinnati Bearcats traveled to the small Northwest Indiana town to face the perennially scary Crusaders Tuesday night, and came away with a fairly easy 68-49 win. While ESPN and the talking heads will do nothing but focus on the made-for-tv ACC/Big Ten matchups, they’ll miss the importance of a game like this. When a team can go into Valpariaso and dominate the Crusaders from start to finish, they have made a statement. Jason Maxiell led the Bearcats with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The key to the Bearcat win was its tenanciousness on the glass, finishing with 16 more rebounds than Valpo. Joaquin Gomes led the Crusaders with 10 points, who lost to a Conference USA team for the third straight contest.

Oklahoma delivers record-breaking blowout: There is no adjective to describe the magnitude of the blowout game Oklahoma and Arkansas Pine Bluff played Tuesday night. The Sooners dropped the Golden Lions, 94-24. It was the largest margin of victory in Kelvin Sampson’s 10 years at the school. The 24 points were the lowest the Sooners have allowed in 60 years. De’Angelo Alexander, who finished with 19 points, nearly outscored the visiting school by himself. Perhaps the Sooners were sending a message to ranked Michigan State, whom Oklahoma plays Saturday.

Cincinnati center to have surgery: Robert Whaley is scheduled to have surgery on torn cartilege in his knee, the University of Cincinnati announced. The 6-10 junior college transfer may only miss one game due to the Bearcats’ long layoff following its Tuesday night victory over Valpariaso.

Mizzou survives scare: At halftime of Missouri’s Tuesday night home matchup with Coppin State, the Tigers trailed 32-28. In most cases, a highly ranked team that trails a much-lesser team at half is likely to respond by blowing the team out in the second half. But Missouri was unable to do that, and struggled to defeat Coppin State, 70-61. The Tigers were led by Travon Bryant’s 16 points while center Arthur Johnson added 14. Coppin State connected on 11 of 22 three-point shots, and were led by Nicholas King, who had five of those three-point buckets and 25 points. This is the second game in a row that the Tigers failed to live up to its lofty preseason expectations. In Missouri’s first game, it barely survived a game with Oakland.

Other Results: In the last of the ACC/Big Ten matchups, Top 30 members Michigan and North Carolina State did battle in Ann Arbor last night, with the Wolverines edging out the Wolfpack 68-61. After a close first half, Michigan held the Wolfpack scoreless for nine minutes in the second half, while Dion Harris notched 14 points for the Wolverines. Julius Hodge was a one-man show for NC State, scoring 25, and adding 8 boards and five assists. The victory was the 100th of Michigan coach Tommy Amaker’s career. No. 3 Florida handled Florida A&M 102-78, with Anthony Roberson scoring 20 points and Matt Walsh scoring 15 on his 21st birthday. Terrance Woods scored 31 points for the Rattlers. Meanwhile, the woes continue in New York, as St. John’s lost again, this time to Hofstra 81-64, who has played a tough schedule so far. Hofstra freshman Carlos Rivera scored 20 and Kenny Adeleke had a 20/13 double-double in the victory, while Grady Reynolds led the Red Storm with 22. No. 11 St. Joseph’s dominated the Dons of San Francisco, winning 84-52. Jameer Nelson had 18 points and some flashy assists in the win, while the Dons were led by James Bayless with 16 points. The Dons committed 15 turnovers – in the first half. Ouch.

Ute Transferring: Utah freshman guard Ryan Werch has announced that he will transfer closer to his Ripon, Wisconsin home by enrolling at Wisconsin-Green Bay, the school announced today. Werch is on Rick Majerus’ roster but has not seen action in any of the Utes’ five games this season. He will be eligible to play for the Phoenix following the fall 2004 semester, due to NCAA transfer rules.

Streak Ends: The streak is over in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as 250 upper deck seats remain available for the Arkansas Razorback’s home schedule at Walton Arena. The shortage marks the first time since the 1976-77 season that Arkansas basketball did not sell out, covering both Barnhill Arena and the 10-year-old Walton Arena. Part of the lapse has to do with the Hogs’ 9-19 record last season – worst in 30 years. AD Frank Broyles added in a statement that more than 3,000 season ticket holders reside more than 200 miles from Fayetteville.

Tonight’s Menu

• The ACC/Big Ten Challenge continues. The scene shifts to the Midwest as the Big Ten hosts three games tonight. Fresh off its Preseason NIT championship, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets travel to Columbus, Ohio, to play the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State has struggled thus far this season and are considerable underdogs. Purdue, much like Georgia Tech, is walking proudly after winning a preseason tournament championship. The Boilermakers took home the Great Alaska Shootout Championship. Tonight, they’ll host Clemson. Finally, the signature game of the Challenge takes place in East Lansing, Mich., where Michigan State hosts Duke.

• In other games, defending champion Syracuse hopes to play more consistently after two subpar performances, as it travels to St. Bonaventure. Pittsburgh and Gonzaga are also in action on the road, as the Panthers take on Duquesne and the Bulldogs take on Washington.

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