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February 1, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, February 1st

SEC Leads The Way: On a day of Top 25 upsets, no major conference had more than the SEC, where three ranked teams lost. Further illustrating the importance that winning on the road can make, all three upset victims were away from home.

We start with No. 5 Kentucky, 66-60 losers to previously-ranked Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Commodores (14-4, 3-4 SEC), who got 20 points and 11 rebounds from Matt Freije, scored 14 of the game’s last 16 points to snap Kentucky’s 10-game road winning streak in the SEC. The Wildcats (14-3, 4-2) shot just 37% from the field and went to the free throw line just nine times.

The next victim was No. 20 Florida, which went to Knoxville and lost to Tennessee, 65-63. The Volunteers (11-6, 3-4) had lost four straight, including a 38-point loss at Florida earlier in the month, but held off the Gators (13-5, 4-3) behind 24 points from Scooter McFadgon and 11 points and 11 rebounds from Brandon Crump.

The last ranked team to go down was No. 24 South Carolina, which went to Mississippi and lost 79-68 to the Rebels. Justin Reed torched the Gamecocks for a career-high 32 points, leading the Rebels (11-7, 3-4) to their seventh win without a defeat at home against South Carolina (18-3, 5-2).

The one ranked team in the SEC to win did so on the road, as No. 12 Mississippi State won its fifth straight, 73-68 at Auburn and continuing the Tigers’ slump. The Bulldogs (18-1, 7-1) won despite career-highs from Quinnel Brown (20 points) and Lewis Monroe (17) for the Tigers (11-7, 2-5). They also held a 41-25 edge on the glass.

Conference USA Has Some As Well: Not to be outdone, at least by much, Conference USA saw two big upsets in games featuring its top four contenders, with the road team winning both games. Rick Pitino returned to the sideline, but No. 4 Louisville had its 16-game winning streak snapped as Steve Novak shot Marquette to a 77-70 win. Novak scored a career-high 30 points, with eight three-pointers along the way, to lead the Golden Eagles (13-5, 4-3 C-USA) to a win they badly needed. Louisville (16-2, 6-1) got 14 points and 19 rebounds from Luke Whitehead.

Charlotte continued its road improvement, picking up its second road win over a ranked team this season with an 86-83 win at No. 8 Cincinnati. The 49ers (13-5, 5-2) led for most of the game and shot over 48% from the field, getting a balanced attack with Brendan Plavich’s 17 points leading five players in double figures. Cincinnati (15-2, 6-2) shot just 41% from the field in the defeat.

Undefeateds Untouched: The two remaining undefeated teams remained that way on Saturday, with two different stories. No. 1 Stanford got a scare at Oregon, but came from behind again to beat the Ducks, 83-80. Oregon (10-6, 5-4 Pac Ten) led from the early moments and at one point had a 45-26 lead in the second half, but Chris Hernandez scored all 22 of his points in the second half to lead the comeback. Stanford (18-0, 9-0) played without injured forward Justin Davis (knee), but Matt Haryasz filled in admirably with 19 points and 7 rebounds.

Meanwhile, No. 3 St. Joseph’s set an Atlantic 10 record with 20 three-pointers in an 83-71 win over Temple, withstanding a career-high 36 points from David Hawkins. The Hawks (18-0, 8-0 Atlantic 10) shot the lights out from long range, making their 20 three-pointers on 36 shots en route to shooting over 53% from the field.

Big Road Win For Duke: No. 2 Duke had a big road test on Saturday, traveling to Atlanta to take on No. 13 Georgia Tech. The result was one that has been seen before: for the 15th straight time, the Blue Devils knocked off the Yellow Jackets, this time by a margin of 82-74 behind a career-high 22 points from Luol Deng. Duke (18-1, 7-0 ACC) also got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Shelden Williams, while Jarrett Jack led Georgia Tech (16-4, 4-3) with 19 points.

Big Road Loss For UNC: Clemson picked a bad time to find its shooting touch, at least as far as No. 11 North Carolina was concerned. The host Tigers shot 55.6% from the field, including a scorching 11-13 on three-pointers, en route to an 81-72 win over the Tar Heels. Shawan Robinson led the charge, scoring a career-high 24 points for the Tigers (9-10, 2-6 ACC) including 5-6 shooting from behind the arc. North Carolina (13-5, 3-4) got 26 points from Rashad McCants.

Jayhawks, Red Raiders Fall Again: Iowa State shot 49% from the field and held No. 15 Kansas to 37% shooting in a 68-61 upset of the Jayhawks in Ames, Iowa. It was the first loss in Big 12 play for the Jayhawks (13-4, 5-1 Big 12), while the Cyclones (13-4, 4-2) got their biggest win of the season behind 19 points and 11 rebounds from Curtis Stinson.

In a matchup featuring two less-heralded Big 12 teams, No. 21 Oklahoma State won its fifth straight game to pull into a three-way tie for the lead in the conference, a 70-66 win over No. 13 Texas Tech. The Cowboys (15-2, 5-1) got 20 points from Tony Allen and held the Red Raiders (16-4, 4-2) under 40% shooting for the game. Allen also played well at the defensive end, holding Big 12 leading scorer Andre Emmett to 15 points (7-14 from the field) and 13 rebounds.

Joining the Cowboys and Jayhawks in the tie for first is No. 16 Texas, 69-59 winners at Texas A&M. Neither team shot particularly well, but the Longhorns (14-3, 5-1) held the Aggies to 33% shooting and held Antoine Wright to just 8 points on 3-11 shooting.

Huskies Tough One Out: No. 7 Connecticut entered Saturday’s game at Boston College having won 27 of the last 29 meetings between the two schools, but had a tough time for much of Saturday’s game. Freshman Josh Boone’s rebound and put-back of a missed free throw with 23 seconds left helped the Huskies hold off the Eagles, 63-58. With Ben Gordon going just 2-12 from the field (though he did have 8 assists with no turnovers), the Huskies needed someone to help Emeka Okafor (16 points), and Rashad Anderson was that player. Anderson came off the bench to score 16 points on 5-7 shooting, helping the Huskies (17-3, 5-1 Big East) rally after trailing at the half.

Boilermakers Fall This Time: No. 22 Purdue dodged a bullet last Sunday at home against Michigan State, but their luck ran out on Saturday. Ohio State got solid inside play from Terence Dials and Velimir Radinovic and good perimeter play from Tony Stockman (17 points) in a 65-59 upset of the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Buckeyes (10-10, 2-5 Big Ten) snapped a three-game skid, while the Boilermakers (14-6, 4-3) missed leader Kenneth Lowe, out with a sprained elbow.

Syracuse Wins And Loses: No. 19 Syracuse got 26 points from Gerry McNamara to score a 76-64 home win over Virginia Tech. Hakim Warrick added 15 points and 7 assists for the Orangemen (14-3, 4-2), who played without sophomore guard Billy Edelin. Edelin was suspended indefinitely for personal reasons, which the university says has nothing to do with academics or the NCAA. He didn’t practice all week, but was with the team and in uniform on the bench for Saturday’s game.

Top Teams Holding Serve: Other Top 25 teams that won on Saturday include No. 9 Arizona (14-4, 6-3 Pac Ten), 61-57 winners at Washington State; No. 10 Gonzaga (17-2, 7-0 WCC), which won its 10th straight with a 79-63 win at Santa Clara behind 21 points and 8 assists from Blake Stepp; and No. 18 Wake Forest (13-4, 4-3 ACC), 91-78 winners over Virginia behind 26 points from Justin Gray.

Hawkeyes Win, Lose Player: Iowa beat Penn State on Saturday, but senior center Sean Sonderleiter has left the team, according to the Des Moines Register. The report said that Sonderleiter is reportedly dealing with family problems, and he may be finished playing for good. With his departure, the depleted Hawkeyes are left with just seven active scholarship players, as he is the fourth player lost in the past two weeks.

Rhode Island Reports Possible Rules Violations: The University of Rhode Island has reported six possible rules violations to the NCAA, all coming during the tenures of Jim Harrick and Jerry DeGregorio from 1997-2000. The school announced possible violations that included a coach giving cash to a player and a former secretary in the men’s basketball office typing course papers for players, as well as players using telephones and computers in the men’s basketball office without authorization. The NCAA will now evaluate what was reported and decide on any actions to take in light of it.

Tonight’s Menu

• No. 23 Providence looks to extend its winning streak to seven games as they host Seton Hall.

• No. 25 Oklahoma will try to continue on the winning path as they visit Nebraska, a team looking for a good Big 12 win.

• Maryland welcomes North Carolina State in a key ACC matchup, while Florida State has a non-conference matchup with visiting Savannah State.

• The Patriot League has a full slate of games, including a key matchup with Colgate visiting Lehigh. The MAAC and Atlantic Sun each have a few games on tap as well.

• The teams with the worst draw for the day are Robert Morris and host Long Island, as they play at 7 PM.

• That brings us to the most important game of the day: at 6:25 PM EST, Super Bowl XXXVIII gets underway. The New England Patriots look for their second Super Bowl win in three years as they take on the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.

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