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December 17, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments




The Morning Dish – Wednesday, December 17th

Michigan State finally gets a win: First off, I think the residents of Hoopville deserve a nice little round of applause at leaving the Michigan State Spartans out of the Top 25 this week. There are simply too many good teams in NCAA basketball to include a team with a losing record. I know, I know, Michigan State is playing the toughest schedule in the nation (and Jerry Palm’s collegerpi.com would argue with that), but until you beat someone of consequence, I don’t think you belong listed among the nation’s elite. In Tuesday night action, the Spartans pushed their record to 4-4 with a 73-60 victory against South Florida. In the first half, the Spartans took out their frustrations on the Bulls, building a 23-point lead. But in the second half, South Florida decided to see what freshman Terrence Leather could do. Leather was fantastic inside, often scoring with multiple Spartans guarding him. It looks like Leather may be a real force in C-USA. Leather had significant help from Bradley Mosley, who scored 23 points. The Spartans were led by Kelvin Torbert with 17 points and Chris Hill with 14 points. Next up for Michigan State is a trip to UCLA to play the Bruins. If Michigan State is truly a contender for the Big Ten title, it’ll pull off the win in Los Angeles.

Oklahoma State throttles in-state competition: The preseason is full of these games with large schools playing a completely overmatched team from inside the state. Normally, Hoopville will not even give these games a glance, but in a slow night in college hoops, this one stuck out. It seems like the Oklahoma State Cowboys never get any respect. This year has been no different. The Cowboys don’t even register on the Hoopville Top 25, not even in the glamorous “Others Receiving Votes” category. They are, however, 5-1, with a victory Tuesday night. They absolutely destroyed in-state rival SE Oklahoma State, 93-46. The Cowboys were led by senior Ivan McFarlin with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Five other Cowboys scored in double figures for Eddie Sutton. Up next for Sutton’s crew is an away date at Arkansas, the team’s stiffest test of the pre-conference schedule.

LSU outlasts Utah: LSU’s Jamie Lloreda and Brandon Bass combined for 31 points in the Tigers’ 65-51 win. Utah was able to dictate the pace, making it a defensive battle. But the Utes were unable to get much offense going. They were led by Andrew Bogut, who tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Virginia tops James Madison: Not much has been said about Virginia in the ACC thus far in the season. Most of the headlines have been focused on Georgia Tech’s amazing start or UNC’s revival under Roy Williams. The Cavaliers are quietly building a solid record, sitting at 6-0 after defeating James Madison Tuesday night, 90-80. Virginia put four players in double figures, including leading scorer Todd Billet, with 20. James Madison received a huge game from freshman Ray Barbosa, who poured in 33 points and grabbed five rebounds. But it simply was not enough as the Cavaliers just have too much talent. Virginia doesn’t look to be challanged until its ACC opener Dec. 28 at N.C. State.

Alabama survives Chattanooga: The Alabama Crimson Tide held off a high-scoring Tennessee-Chatanooga team Tuesday night, 76-72. The Tide were led by Kennedy Winston, who scored 20 points in the win.

Baylor scores a home win: It took an overtime session, but Baylor recorded its fourth win of the season Tuesday night by defeating Louisiana-Monroe, 85-79. Baylor, of course, is the fan favorite for the 2003-2004 season, considering the turmoil the school endured during the offseason. New coach Scott Drew has done an admirable job of keeping his team in games and he has to be happy with a .500 start to the season, no matter the schedule.

But more problems for Baylor: Drew, however, did receive some bad news on Tuesday night when he had to dismiss junior guard Ellis Kidd, Jr. from the team. Kidd, the second leading scorer for the team, was dismissed for violating an undisclosed “team policy.” I’m not going to insult the kid without knowing any of the facts but it had to be pretty serious if he was dismissed without even a second chance from the coach. Of course, given Baylor’s situation, it can’t take any chances on any player.

Turns out, Self is still alive: Let the name-calling begin between Illinois coach Bruce Weber and Kansas coach Bill Self. Weber, sick of being compared to Self, who left the Illinois job last year, decided to wear all black during the Illini’s win over Maryland Eastern Shore. Weber said he decided to wear all black because he was holding a “funeral” for Self and that he didn’t want to hear anything else about the departed coach. All of this was news to Self, who woke up to read about the story in the newspaper. When pressed for a response, Self said he checked his pulse to make sure he was still alive. He then said a few words about how being compared to former coaches is all part of the job. But, there’ s more to the story. Weber, angered by a critic who said Self wouldn’t have let Illinois be beat by 19 points by Providence if he was still there, told the media that he (Weber) had kicked Self’s butt twice. The statement was ridiculous, considering in Weber’s two meetings against Self, he only walked away with one win. The classy Self didn’t engage in the war of words, instead insisting that players win games, not coaches. Perhaps Weber is a little uncomfortable in his new high-profile position. He spent years in the shadows of Gene Keady as an assistant, and then coached at relatively ignored Southern Illinois. Now, at Illinois, he’s facing pressure he’s never faced before and it looks like Weber is becoming unraveled. The problem is that the pressure will only build from now on in the Big Ten season.

Tonight’s Menu

• The best game of the day pits Clemson at undefeated Cincinnati, although it is unlikely the Tigers will be able to challenge the Bearcats. Undefeated Georgia Tech continues its season and should remain unbeaten after its contest against Florida A&M.

• In other games, Duke hosts Princeton, and Arizona, Syracuse and Pittsburgh welcome lesser competition.

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