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January 29, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, January 29th

Utah coach Rick Majerus enters hospital: Two days after Rick Pitino took an indefinite leave of absence due to a urological related pain, Rick Majerus, head coach of the University of Utah’s basketball team for fifteen years, was in the hospital complaining of chest pains. Thankfully, he was released from a Santa Barbara hospital on Wednesday night (don’t worry, the police did not rough him up) and Spokeswoman Janet O’Neill would not release any further information on his condition. Majerus has taken the Utes to 10 tournament appearances and to the title game in 1998 played against eventual national champion Kentucky. It was announced that Majerus would resign at the end of the season, leaving Utah players and coaches stunned. Majerus has coached numerous NBA players, including Keith Van Horn, Andre Miller and Michael Doleac. Meanwhile, Rick Pitino will return to Thursday’s practice after receiving treatment for his undisclosed urological ailment.

North Carolina v North Carolina State: With North Carolina’s recent tumultuous seasons, North Carolina basketball fans have looked to the State schools for relief. It has been almost three years since the Tar Heels beat the Wolfpack, and North Carolina was in the midst of a 2-3 conference start. Add this to the 4-1 record of the Wolfpack in conference play, with big wins over giant killers Florida State and Georgia Tech, and things were not looking good for the Tar Heels. Add in the first half play of the team and a North Carolina fan might rather not like to be recognized as that. However, the Tar Heels, behind the strong effort of Raymond Felton and the scrambling ability of Rashad McCants, held off a late run by the Wolfpack for a 68-66 victory to snap back to five hundred in conference play at 3-3. The loss tied the Wolfpack with Georgia Tech for second in the ACC, a conference with only one team with more then five losses.

UConn back on track: After losing two of its last three, UConn let off a little steam, thanks mostly to Rashad Anderson and Ben Gordon, or should I say the phantom of UConn. A touted sophomore who has had a tough shooting year, Anderson unloaded with 9-12 shooting from the field, including 6-9 from behind the arc, to lead the Huskies to a 96-60 rout of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Emeka Okafor had his usual double-double, and freshman Charlie Villanueva chipped in 12 in his usual 20 minutes of play. Ben Gordon, playing with a protective mask after breaking his nose earlier in January, dropped 22 to play second fiddle to Anderson’s coming out party. It was a new career high for Anderson, and it came just in time for the Huskies.

Vanderbilt’s gone fishing: When Vanderbilt entered conference play against Auburn, they had such high hopes. They were undefeated and had strong victories over such perennial powerhouses as Michigan and Indiana. However, USC’s football team would be quick to point out that the Commodores be thankful that they are not playing under the devilish hand of the BCS, because their strength of schedule would be hurting. Their inadequacies due to lack of competition in non-conference play, despite the presence of perennial powerhouses, was unveiled after consecutive losses to Kentucky and Tennessee. A win over Florida brought the Commodores back into many top 25 polls, but a loss to a struggling Arkansas team forced Vanderbilt to reassess their priorities. Number one priority: learn to win on the road. It was their 12th road SEC loss in a row, a streak that dates to February 23, 2002. They did no better yesterday at home, where they lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks on a last minute tip in by Kerbrell Brown off of a Josh Gonner miss. When things are down, they are really down. Vanderbilt was led by Matt Freije, their senior leader, who had a game high 26 points, but the Commodores were one box-out short against the Gamecocks. They will have no time to rest as they play Kentucky and Florida on consecutive Saturdays. Good luck.

Pittsburgh’s a streaking: Pittsburgh held off upstart Boston College 68-58 with the help of foul ridden guard Carl Krauser. Krauser had five key points down the stretch to help the Panthers extend their 38 game home winning streak, which happens to be tops in the nation. Jaron Brown had 18 points to lead the Panthers, and Chris Taft added 14.

A temple to Cheney: Temple finally got John Chaney’s 700th win for him, something that has been a game in the making. Temple held off St. Bonaventure (not the high school) 76-57 to improve to 7-9 overall, and 2-4 in conference play. Cheney has 475 of the 700 wins at Temple, where he has coached such talented players as Eddie Jones, Marc Macon and Aaron McKie. Though he has never gotten to the final four, he is one of five active coaches with 700 victories, a group that includes Bob Knight, Lou Henson, Eddie Sutton and Lute Olson.

No upsets here: Hoopville Top 25 teams had a good run yesterday with every single ranked team winning. True, there were no elite match-ups outside of North Carolina versus North Carolina State, but none-the-less, with all the recent upsets, ranked teams should feel so lucky to get away with one good day.

#4 Louisville 64, Houston 48: Louisville held down the fort while Rick Pitino recovered with a victory over Houston. Larry O’Bannon led Louisville with 17.

#5 Kentucky 71, Mississippi 61: Erik Daniels scored 24 points on the inside, and was balanced out by senior back-up Antwain Barbour’s four three pointers to help lead Kentucky over Mississippi. Kentucky improves to 4-1 in conference play.

#8 Cincinnati 80, East Carolina 57: James White and Jason Maxiell led Cincinnati to a 23 point victory, something that is direly needed after a 27 point loss to Louisville a week ago.

#12 Mississippi State 82 Tennessee 60: A smaller lineup has helped the Bulldogs rout four straight teams after their last second loss to Kentucky. Lawrence Roberts again led the team with 20 points.

#15 Kansas 78, Kansas State 70: Perhaps I should have put this amongst the day’s news because of the intrastate rivalry, but Kansas State just doesn’t deserve it (I’m just bitter because they beat USC two years in a row ending the year before last, darn that Roberson). Aaron Miles dished out 12 assists and added 13 points to help Kansas improve to 5-0 in conference play.

#17 Wisconsin 69, Ohio State 57: Though not as good as a football game between the two schools, Wisconsin won to stay atop the Big Ten conference with Indiana. Ohio State must learn to put some of that bowl money in other sports; they are 1-5 in conference play and fell to below five hundred on the season. Delvin Harris led the Badgers with 29 points on 5 of 7 from behind the arc.

#25 Oklahoma 78, Baylor 67: Kevin Bookout had decided on season ending shoulder surgery, but losing their fourth leading scorer and top rebounder didn’t detour the Sooners from winning their second conference game. Jason Detrick scored 15 on 9 of 10 from the line, and eight players had at least 8 points. Share the love in Sooner nation.

Tonight’s Menu:

• ACC battles Wake Forrest (11-4) at Maryland (11-5) and Duke (16-1) at Florida State (14-5) are the two most exciting games of the night. The two most excruciating games are Marist (5-12) at Loyola MA (0-18) and MD Eastern Shore (2-13) at Savannah State (1-20). With a combined eight wins between the four teams, it is bound to be a slugfest.

• In other games, Utah State is at UC Irvine, Arizona visits Washington, Stanford goes to Oregon State, and Gonzaga will lay waste to San Diego. Can anyone say ‘ain’t no party like a West Coast party’?

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