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February 9, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, February 9th

Delayed Reaction: Ohio State freshman guard Nick Dials could miss a month of action because of a stress fracture in his right wrist, which first occurred nearly two weeks ago. Already struggling in the not-exactly-dominant Big Ten, Ohio State becomes even shallower as the team attempts to climb back into the conference race.

No. 11 Never Again at Texas: The No. 12 Texas Longhorns retired the number of former point guard T.J. Ford, who left the team for the NBA last year after leading the Longhorns to the Promised Land of the Final Four. No Longhorn men’s basketball player will ever wear No. 11 again. The Longhorns are having another good season and have as good of a chance to reach the Final Four as any other team. But just imagine how good this team would have been this season if Ford stuck around for another run.

Meanwhile, the current Longhorns absolutely embarrassed No. 22 Oklahoma, winning 66-37 as the Sooners made one of 21 three-point attempts. Texas held Oklahoma under 28 percent shooting in the game. Although the Longhorns’ offensive performance was far from exemplary, making less than 40 percent of the team’s field goal attempts, Texas’ defense was more than enough for the Longhorns to cruise to victory and to the top of the Big XII standings with No. 19 Kansas and No. 14 Oklahoma State. Forward Brian Boddicker led Texas with 13 points and seven rebounds while guard De’Angelo Alexander was the only Sooner in double-figures with 12 points.

Duke Remains Dominant: No. 2 Duke avoided a letdown at home against Clemson by creaming the ACC’s cellar dweller 81-55. The Blue Devils returned home after a fantastic overtime win at North Carolina Thursday. Guard J.J. Redick spurred the victory with 23 points and freshman star Luol Deng added 22 points to help the Blue Devils win for the 38th straight time at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Forward Sharrod Ford led Clemson with 19 points in the loss.

Blame Game: St. John’s president, the Rev. Donald Harrington, pardoned interim coach Kevin Clark and company for the actions of the team’s players. Five team members are involved in a case with a woman from Pittsburgh who first claimed that the Red Storm players gang raped her. But she changed her story, saying she made the rape charge up after the players refused to pay for her sexual services. Police have charged her with prostitution, attempted extortion and filing fictitious reports. Nonetheless, the team kicked off several key contributors, including seniors Grady Reynolds and Abraham Keita and sophomore Elijah Ingram, the team’s leading scorer. St. John’s is a team in shambles right now, much like St. Bonaventure’s was close to this time last year. If you’re looking for a patron saint of college basketball, look to Joseph, as the St. Joseph’s Hawks remain perfect this season with a collection of athletes who perform well both on and off the court.

So with only eight eligible players, St. John’s hosted Boston College. The Eagles thumped the Red Storm 89-61, but St. John’s played admirably, keeping the game close until early in the second half when an 18-5 run sealed the deal for Boston College. The only remaining guards on scholarship, Daryll Hill and Andre Stanley each scored 16 points to lead St. John’s. The Eagles rode Sean Marshall’s 23 points to victory.

Illinois Runs Over Gophers: Despite trailing by 15 points in the first half, the Fighting Illini battled back against Minnesota to win 79-69. Guard Deron Williams orchestrated Illinois’ comeback with 19 points and 11 assists, and guard Dee Brown supported the cause with 18 points. Minnesota was led by freshman superstar Kris Humphries, who scored 23 points with nine rebounds to lead the Gophers, who fell to 0-9 in Big Ten play. That’s their worst mark in over 70 years.

Maryland Gets Much-Needed Win: Sitting at 3-5 in the ACC standings, Maryland needed to hold down the fort against Florida State or risk falling further behind the top ACC teams. The Terps responded with a hard-fought 73-62 win in a game that was close until the final minute. Forward Jamar Smith led Maryland with 16 points and 14 rebounds, continuing to play as one of the nation’s most underrated big men. Despite the great play of Duke’s Shelden Williams and North Carolina’s Sean May, Smith is probably the most dominating presence in the post in the conference.

Dayton Flies Past UMass: The Dayton Flyers remained perfect in Atlantic 10 competition by beating Massachusetts 66-59. Dayton, however, did not pull away until late in the second half when Keith Waleskowski broke a 54-54 tie and then built the lead with a second consecutive hoop. He led all scores with 18 points. The Flyers needed to focus against Massachusetts because their next game is against undefeated St. Joseph’s. Looking ahead may be tempting, but almost always leads to disaster, especially on the road in conference play.

Got Superstars?: When the Manhattan Jaspers visited the St. Peter’s Peacocks, two of the NCAA’s top seven scoring leaders were on the court at the same time. Manhattan’s Luis Flores scored 24 points to lead the Jaspers to a 77-74 win over St. Peter’s and Keydren Clark, who scored 22 points. Flores is the NCAA’s seventh leading scorer with 23.3 points per game, and he has scored at least 20 points in eight of the last 10 games. But Clark is an even more prolific scorer, averaging 27 points per game, which is second best in the NCAA. In 22 St. Peter’s games, only three opponents have managed to hold him under 20 points. Not surprisingly, with such superstar power, both St. Peter’s and Manhattan sit atop of the MAAC’s standings.

Tonight’s Menu:

• The highlight of tonight’s games is No. 19 Kansas playing at No. 14 Oklahoma State for first place in the Big XII. Meanwhile, the Big East’s best are in action as No. 4 Connecticut visits Notre Dame and No. 5 Pittsburgh plays at Seton Hall, a dangerous sleeper team in the Big East.

• The Southern Conference’s best teams are in action as the College of Charleston hosts Appalachian State and East Tennessee State takes its perfect conference record to Tennessee-Chattanooga.

• Out west, Air Force looks to assert its dominance of the Mountain West against Colorado State, and UNLV looks to supplant Utah as the conference’s No. 2 team.

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