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December 31, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Wednesday, December 31st

Chalk up another blowout win for UConn: At some point this season, UConn is going to have to play someone good. But for now, the Huskies are whipping up on lower competition. On Tuesday night, they did away with UMass, 91-67. It was the 13th win in a row for the Huskies in this series that is played annually and dubbed the “U” game. UConn was led by Ben Gordon, who poured in 34 points, while hitting seven three-pointers. Clearly, the Minutemen’s plan was to limit Emeka Okafor, who finished with just six points in 20 minutes of play. But while they were packing the lane, Gordon was making them pay from outside. UMass was led by Jeff Viggiano’s career-high 22 points.

Pitt cruises past Georgia: There seems to be a conference-wide pact in the Big East, where all the member teams have decided to play the weakest nonconference schedule possible. Pittsburgh has certainly subscribed to this theory so far this season, until actually taking on a decent team Tuesday night. The result, however, was no different as the Panthers cruised to a 76-55 victory. Pitt was led by Mark McCarroll’s career-high 26 points. McCarroll started the season as a barely used reserve, but was pivotal in Tuesday night’s game since the Panthers were without injured leading scorer Carl Krauser. Julius Page moved from shooting guard to point guard to replace Krauser and responded with 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. The win pushed Pitt’s record to a perfect 13-0, extending the school’s best start since the 1927-28 team went 21-0.

Syracuse wins eighth straight: The defending champion Orangemen haven’t looked sharp in most of their games thus far this season, but have managed to string together eight wins in a row nonetheless. On Tuesday night, Syracuse pulled away from Canisius, 87-70. Gerry McNamara had 21 points while Hakim Warrick added 19. The Golden Griffins, who own one of the best nicknames in sports, hung around with the ‘Cuse until about halfway through the second half. It was the fourth loss in a row for Canisius, who was led by Kevin Downey’s 16 points.

Wake rolls again: Erick Williams scored 17 points and Wake Forest dominated North Carolina A&T 91-67 Tuesday night. The Demon Deacons used a suffocating 29-1 run to put the game away early. The win was Wake Forest’s eighth in a row to start the season and 21st in a row at home. Sean Booker led the Aggies with 19 points, who have lost nine games this season by an average margin of 35 points.

Cincy continues to impress: Once again, Cincy’s defensive pressure was too much for an overmatched opponent. This time it was Elon that was decimated, 102-63. Jason Maxiell led a balanced attack for the Bearcats with 19 points. Four other players finished with double digits for Cincy. Elon was clearly flustered in this game as it had three over-and-back violations and three shot clock violations en route to a 25 turnover night.

Belmont upsets Missouri: Belmont, of the Atlantic Sun conference, stunned Missouri in Columbia, Missouri Tuesday night, 71-67. Belmont used the three-point line to spring the upset, hitting 13 long-range shots. They were led by Steve Drabyn with 16 points but had three other players finish with double digits in points. Missouri was led by Ricky Paulding, who scored 21 points. For some reason, Missouri coach Quin Snyder just can’t win in December. Despite having an impressive 88-53 overall record at Mizzou, he’s just 13-12 in December.

Alabama topples Wisconsin: Alabama used a huge second half to defeat Wisconsin Tuesday night, 71-56. Shooting 60 percent for the game, the Crimson Tide ran its record to an impressive 8-2.

Colorado State hits buzzer beater to beat Purdue: Michael Morris hit two three pointers in the waning seconds, including oen of an inbounds steal to give Colorado State a surprising 71-69 win over Purdue Tuesday night.

Illinois beats in-state rival: Simply, Illinois was just far too physical for UIC Tuesday night, hammering the smaller Flames on the boards en route to a 75-60 win. The huge 52-34 rebounding advantage was too much for UIC to overcome. The game was quite feisty as a lively crowd at the United Center looked on. Illinois was led by Roger Powell’s 17 points.

Digger Phelps’ mother dies: As far as I can tell, there aren’t a lot of people that particularly enjoy Phelps’ commentary on ESPN. But whether or not you are a fan of the outspoken analyst, your heart has to go out to him now as his mother has passed away. Margaret Phelps, 85, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday. Phelps lost his father in 1991.

Tonight’s Menu

• Well, it’s New Years Eve, and there are only two top teams in action, both involved in games that look to be mismatches. Kentucky looks to bounce back from its loss to Louisville when it hosts Austin Peay. Meanwhile, Gonzaga hosts Eastern Washington. Have a good time tonight and see you on Wednesdays in 2004.

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