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December 21, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 21st

Top Spot A Jinx You Say?: No. 1 Kentucky may have broken the curse on holding the top ranking, as the Wildcats were never seriously threatened in blowing out Indiana, 80-41 in Indianapolis. Chuck Hayes led the Wildcats (6-0) with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Erik Daniels added 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Bracey Wright led Indiana (4-4) with 23 points.

Not Quite What Was Expected: A sellout crowd gathered at Madison Square Garden, among other things expecting to see No. 4 Duke and No. 12 Texas give them their money’s worth in the first game of a doubleheader. The Blue Devils certainly did that, as six players scored in double figures in an 89-61 blowout of the Longhorns. Duke (8-1) shot over 57% from the field and got 20 points from J.J. Redick and 15 points and 9 assists from Chris Duhon, and they held Texas (5-2) under 32% from the field.

Ho-Hum, Another Blowout In Storrs: No. 3 Connecticut had another easy time with a visiting mid-major, as they rolled over Iona 105-54. Emeka Okafor returned to the lineup and led the Huskies (8-1) with 24 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Denham Brown added 22 points, as five players scored in double figures for the Huskies, who shot 57% from the field.

The Never-Ending Game: No. 15 Wake Forest headed to Chapel Hill to take on No. 2 North Carolina in an early ACC matchup that figured to be a good one, and marked Roy Williams’ first ACC game at UNC. The teams didn’t disappoint, as the game took a while before a winner came out — in the third overtime, the Demon Deacons were able to prevail, 119-114, in a game that saw 13 players score in double figures. Eric Williams, who led the Demon Deacons (7-0, 1-0 ACC) with 24 points, hit a short jumper with 36 seconds left in the third overtime, then added two late free throws to seal the game. Justin Gray added 20 points and Chris Paul had 18 with 8 assists for Wake Forest. The Tar Heels (6-1, 0-1 ACC) were led by Rashad McCants’ 25 points, while Raymond Felton added 22 and 11 assists.

Great Games Out West: The Pete Newell Challenge produced two great games, starting with a matchup of two of the nation’s hottest teams in No. 9 Stanford and No. 11 Gonzaga. The Cardinal got a career-high 34 points from Matt Lottich and staved off a late rally by Gonzaga to pull out an 87-80 win, ending Gonzaga’s seven-game winning streaking and pushing their own streak to seven. Stanford (7-0) once led 53-36, before a late rally by the Bulldogs (7-2) put them within striking distance. Blake Stepp and Adam Morrison each had 20 points to lead Gonzaga.

In the second game, California and No. 10 St. Joseph’s faced off in a rematch of the game last season where the Hawks suffered their first loss of the season. This time, Jameer Nelson hit a jumper with four seconds left to give the Hawks a 59-57 win in a game where neither team ever led by double digits. Nelson was the only Hawk who scored in double figures with 19 points, while Marquise Kately led California (3-4) with 16 points and fellow freshman Leon Powe had 15 and 13 rebounds. The win gives St. Joseph’s its first 8-0 start since the 1964-65 season.

And A Freshman Shall Lead Them: No. 8 Oklahoma rolled to a 68-46 victory over Jackson State on Saturday, led once again by diminutive freshman Drew Lavender. For the third straight game, Lavender led the Sooners (8-0) in scoring, this time with 23 points.

Another Team No Longer Undefeated: No. 21 Pittsburgh took on another undefeated team, Murray State on Saturday. The host Panthers had little trouble in beating the Racers 70-49 at the Pittsburgh Holiday Hoops Tournament, holding the Racers (8-1) to 29% shooting. Carl Krauser led four scorers in double figures for the Panthers (10-0) with 19 points.

Gators Back On Track: After losing twice last week to fall from the top spot in the poll, No. 14 Florida came back on Saturday to knock off West Virginia, 70-57 at the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Miami. The Gators (6-2) trailed at the half, but Matt Walsh (14 of his 17 points in the second half) led the charge as the Gators took command in the second half. Florida out-rebounded West Virginia (5-3) by a 40-28 margin.

UCLA Honors Wooden: On Saturday, UCLA named its floor in honor of coaching legend John Wooden and his late wife, Nell. More than 70 former players were on hand to see the ceremony, followed by the Bruins hosting Michigan State, which just got back to .500 earlier in the week. When the day was done, the Spartans were back where they were a few days ago, as the Bruins shot 50% from the field and held the Spartans to 35% shooting in a 64-58 win. T.J. Cummings, who became academically eligible earlier in the week, made his first start of the season and led the Bruins (4-2) with 13 points. Chris Hill led Michigan State (4-5) with 17 points.

White Debuts For Bearcats: No. 16 Cincinnati had an easy time with Middle Tennessee State on Saturday with an 89-54 win, as Florida transfer James White made his debut. White had 8 points in 19 minutes, coming off the bench in this game. Tony Bobbitt led three players in double figures for the Bearcats (6-0) with 15 points.

Other Top Teams Roll: Several other Top 25 teams won on Saturday, most in easy wins. Behind 15 points and 16 rebounds from Wayne Simien, No. 6 Kansas (6-1) rolled to a 72-52 win over Santa Barbara in the Wolf Pack Holiday Classic in Reno, NV. No. 17 Purdue (8-1) beat Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, 80-69, in the first round of the Boilermaker Invitational behind a career-high 23 points from Matt Kiefer. No. 20 Wisconsin (7-1) overcame a slow start to beat No. 23 Marquette (7-2) by a 63-59 score in the first start of the season for Alando Tucker. No. 19 Syracuse (5-1) got 24 points and 10 rebounds from Hakim Warrick in a 74-61 win over Siena (3-5). No. 22 Louisville (5-1) got another strong game from Francisco Garcia, as he scored 21 points and handed out 8 assists to lead them to an 80-63 win over Austin Peay. No. 24 Dayton (9-0) remained undefeated with a 78-65 win over Prairie View, getting double-doubles from Sean Finn (game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds) and Keith Waleskowski (16 points, 11 rebounds).

Stating Their Case: Several unranked teams remained undefeated on Saturday to state their case for the Top 25. Included are Mississippi State (9-0), 66-61 winners over Santa Clara in overtime behind 17 points and 12 rebounds from Lawrence Roberts; Vanderbilt (8-0), 90-59 winners over Wofford behind 24 points from Matt Freije; Florida State (10-0), which barely got past Chicago State, 47-42 in the Pittsburgh Holiday Hoops Tournament; Creighton (7-0), 91-66 winners over Arkansas-Little Rock; LSU (6-0), 65-50 winners over Southern Mississippi; Georgetown (8-0) after an 89-58 thrashing of Howard; and Iowa State (6-0) after an 83-77 win over Drake.

Wildcats Add One: Arizona added Ivan Radenovic, a 6-10, 218-pound post player from Serbia, to their team on Saturday. The Wildcats, desperately in need of frontcourt depth with the loss of junior Isaiah Fox for the season, will have him beginning on December 28. He graduated from the Secondary School of Sports in Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, in May, and will have to sit one game after playing two minutes in a pro contest last spring.

Knight Loses Appeal: A judge rejected Bob Knight’s request to reconsider the dismissal of his breach-of-contract lawsuit against Indiana on Saturday. If Knight still wants to try the lawsuit, he must next go to the Indiana Court of Appeals, as this is the last step for Knight’s complaint at the local level.

Tonight’s Menu

• No. 6 Kansas takes on Nevada in the Wolfpack Classic in Reno.

• No. 7 Georgia Tech hosts St. John’s.

• Randy Pulley and VMI transfer Jason Conley make their debut for No. 13 Missouri as the Tigers play host to UNC-Greensboro.

• No. 17 Purdue hosts SMU in the championship game of the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette.

• Notre Dame hosts American, Providence hosts Central Connecticut State, and Rhode Island hosts New Hampshire.

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