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January 14, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Wednesday, January 14th

Kentucky squeaks past Mississippi State: It looked early on as if Mississippi State’s undefeated record was merely the result of a soft schedule. Kentucky, playing on the road, dominated the Bulldogs early in its Tuesday night contest, jumping to an 18-point lead. But Mississippi State, fueled by a raucous home crowd, methodically cut into the lead behind clutch three-point shooting by Timmy Bowers and overpowering offensive rebounding by Lawrence Roberts. And finally, the Bulldogs caught the Wildcats. But two missed free throws, both front ends of one-and-ones, cost the Bulldogs late, as Erik Daniels scored a last-second basket for Kentucky to give it the win, 67-66 The Wildcats’ win extended its SEC winning streak to 25 games, while the loss dropped the Bulldogs from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Wake Forest no longer unbeaten: The Texas Longhorns dialed up its high-octane offense Tuesday night and gave the visiting Wake Forest Demon Deacons its first loss of the season, 94-81. The Longhorns were led by freshman P.J. Tucker, who scored 21 points in the contest. Brandon Mouton added 17 for Texas. The Longhorns needed this game to reestablish itself as a national contender. Its previous two games against high-ranked clubs ended in defeat. Duke and Arizona had both easily defeated the Longhorns earlier in the season. Wake Forest spent much of the game behind and used a flurry of three-pointers to narrow the gap towards the end. But it was too little, too late. The Demon Deacons were led by Justin Gray, who scored 27 points. Wake Forest will have to regroup quickly as its heads back to conference action to take on North Carolina Saturday.

DePaul topples Memphis: The DePaul Blue Demons got exactly what it needed Tuesday night, a win over a solid club. The Blue Demons had been struggling recently, losing its first two conference games to Charlotte and Cincinnati. But on Tuesday night, DePaul jumped to a huge halftime lead and hung on to beat the Memphis Tigers, 82-73.

Iowa continues topsy-turvy season: It is nearly impossible to predict which Iowa team is going to show up from game to game this season. First, the Hawkeyes shock the college basketball world with a big neutral court win against Louisville. It followed that victory up with a surprising loss at Northern Iowa. Then, the Hawkeyes opened Big Ten play with an upset of Purdue. They followed that effort with a home loss to perennial cellar-dweller Northwestern. On Tuesday night, the good Iowa team showed up and dominated a struggling Minnesota team from start to finish, 83-68. The Hawkeyes were led by Jeff Horner, who scored a career-high 23 points. The Hawkeyes used an active zone to stifle sensational Gopher freshman Kris Humphries, who leads the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding. Humphries finished with 17 points.

Bonnies hire new AD: Well, the good news for St. Bonaventure is that it would pretty darn hard for new athletic director Ronald Zwierlein to do a worse job than outgoing director Gothard Lane. Lane resigned last April in the fallout of a nasty and messy academic scandal that plagued the University. The Bonnies were stripped of six victories and barred from the postseason by the Atlantic 10 Conference after Jamil Terrell was ruled ineligible for violating junior college transfer guidelines. Also gone are former president Robert Wickenheiser and former coach Jan van Breda Kolff. William Swan, chairman of the school’s trustees committed suicide, in part because he believed he let down the University. So a new era for the department begins with Zwierlein, who says he intends to run a tight academic ship.

Florida State continues to struggle: It wasn’t that long ago when the Florida State Seminoles looked like they were going to be a surprise player in the ACC title chased. But consecutive losses to Florida and North Carolina State have derailed the Seminoles. On Tuesday night, they couldn’t get back on track, losing at Clemson, 53-48. The Tigers held on after leading by nine at half. They were led by Shawan Robinson’s 10 points.

St. Louis edges Southern Miss: Fresh off a hearbreaking, last-second loss at Marquette, the St. Louis Billikens found themselves on the winning end of a nail-biter Tuesday night. The Billikens scored just one point in the final 5:30 of the game, but hung on to win, 56-55. It was the 18th consecutive loss on the road for Southern Miss.

Tonight’s Menu

• The marquee matchup pitts undefeated Cincinnati at Marquette. The Bearcats have rolled to an 11-0 record this season, leading the nation in average margin of victory. However, Cincinnati’s schedule has left a lot to be desired. The Golden Eagles haven’t exactly dominated, but does stand 11-2 and will certainly be anxious to knock off the highly ranked Bearcats. In other notable games, Wisconsin travels to Purdue, Oklahoma visits Oklahoma State, and North Carolina plays at Maryland. Top-ranked UConn is in action again, hosting a twice-beaten Georgetown team.

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