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February 16, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, February 16th

Bad Timing for a Bad Knee: Indiana sophomore forward Sean Kline will miss significant time because of a knee injury that occurred during the Hoosiers’ game against Purdue Saturday. Kline averaged 7.1 points and four rebounds per game for Indiana and takes away some of the team’s depth at a time when the Hoosiers need all the talent they can get. Indiana has lost four of the last five games and is in danger of having its bubble burst.

Wildcat Observed: Northwestern sophomore guard Evan Seacat was under observation yesterday at a hospital. Seacat collided with Penn State behemoth Jan Jagla during the game Saturday. Seacat lef the court on a stretcher as medics feared possible neck damage. After doctors checked him out, they diagnosed Seacat with a concussion. He will miss Northwestern’s game against Michigan State.

Duke Down: No. 2 Duke left the comfort of Cameron Indoor Stadium to travel east to Raleigh, N.C., to play second-placed No. 21 NC State in an important ACC game. A win would all but clinch the regular season title. But the Wolfpack had other ideas for Duke. Behind 18 points apiece from junior guard Julius Hodge and senior forward Marcus Melvin, the Wolfpack upset Duke 78-74. The Wolfpack continue to be the most underrated team from the ACC, although this win will likely deliver the media attention that coach Herb Sendek and his team has deserved since the beginning of conference play. Sophomore sharpshooter J.J. Redick led Duke with 28 points.

Big Big East Battle: No. 4 Pittsburgh hosted No. 5 Connecticut yesterday in a game that determined first place in the Big East standings. Pitt won 75-68 as the Panthers stymied the Huskies’ fast-paced running game and prevented any offensive consistency. Senior guard Jaron Brown led an even attack with 17 points, and three other Panthers reached double figures. Junior guard Ben Gordon led Connecticut with 23 points, and junior superstar Emeka Okafor scored 16 points. But Pittsburgh limited everyone else on the team, as only three other Huskies even scored. The win gives Pittsburgh the inside track to win the Big East regular season title with a game and a half lead over the Huskies.

Running Ragged: No. 12 Cincinnati and No. 19 Wake Forest just kept scoring as nobody seemed capable of slowing anyone down. In the end, the Demon Deacons won a huge non-conference game 91-85 as freshman guard Chris Paul unloaded 30 points on the Bearcats. Paul is one of the nation’s best freshmen, clearly proven by his selection to the midseason list of Wooden Award candidates. That means that more than a handful of people think he deserves consideration as the best player in the entire country. That may be a bit of a stretch with the likes of Jameer Nelson also at the guard spot, but Paul has the talents to carry Wake Forest to victory over good teams like Cincinnati. Paul’s outburst overshadowed a spectacular performance from senior guard Tony Bobbitt of Cincinnati, who scored 23 points in the losing effort.

Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins did not travel with the team and missed recent practices because he was fatigued. After the game, he told the media that he was ok in health. With games like the one against Wake Forest, who can blame him for being tired.

Can’t Stop McCants: For the seventh time in the last nine games, sophomore guard Rashad McCants scored at least 25 points for No. 17 North Carolina, and the Tar Heels beat Maryland 97-86 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Despite the victory, North Carolina has reason to be concerned about the team’s defensive fortitude. After building a 20-point lead, Maryland stormed back in the second half to close the margin to three. McCants, who finished with 25 points, helped bail out the Tar Heels by hitting a clutch/lucky, fade-away three pointer that kissed off the glass as the shot clock expired late in the game. The game turned into a foulfest as the two teams combined for 55 fouls and 80 free-throw attempts. Four players fouled out of the game.

Huskers Snipe Jayhawks: No. 13 Kansas arrived at Nebraska needing a win to wash that bad taste out of the team’s mouth after Oklahoma State handed the Jayhawks a bitter dose of whooping earlier in the week. All Nebraska did, however, was add to the frustration by cruising to a 74-55 victory with 56 percent shooting from the floor and 50 percent shooting from three-point range. Senior guard Nate Johnson, senior forward Andrew Drevo and junior forward John Turek each had 14 points for Nebraska. The Huskers made all 12 of their free throws to squash any hopes of a Jayhawk rally. Junior forward Wayne Simien led Kansas with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Another 1, 2 Punch: Boston University visited first-place Vermont with an opportunity to usurp the America East conference’s top spot. The Terriers claimed first by beating Vermont 80-70 as junior guard Chaz Carr scored 25 points to guide his team to victory. Boston shot better than 56 percent from behind the arc, which helped the Terriers end two Vermont streaks. The Catamounts had 13-game winning streak entering the game to match a 13-game home winning streak. Despite 24 points from junior forward Taylor Coppenrath and 23 points from junior guard T.J. Sorrentine, the Catamounts will be looking to start new streaks, while in second place.

Mid-Major Mistake: For teams from mid-major conferences that have an eye on an NCAA at-large bid, such as Western Michigan, winning conference games against weaker competition is absolutely mandatory. There is just no room for error. And aforementioned Western Michigan committed an error when the Broncos lost to Marshall 82-76 yesterday. Although it’s only their third loss all season, they do not have the strength of schedule or RPI to roll off several conference losses and still receive an at-large bid. Because Western Michigan has excelled all season, this one loss may not doom the Broncos’ at-large aspirations, but it certainly did them no favors. Junior guard Ben Reed led Western Michigan with 25 points and seven rebounds. But Marshall senior forward stole the show – and the game – from Reed and Western Michigan by scoring 30 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Dayton Bounces Back: Dayton’s perfect streak in the Atlantic 10 ended when the Flyers lost to perfect No. 3 St. Joseph’s earlier this week. But the Flyers bounced back against Duquesne, winning 70-58 as the Flyers held the Dukes to 38 percent shooting. Senior center Sean Finn led Dayton with 20 points and seven rebounds to spark the Flyers to the victory. Dayton’s defense prevented any Duke shooters from finding a consistent stroke. Freshman forward Kieron Achara led Duquesne with 13 points.

Tonight’s Menu:

• There are several big games tonight, including No. 11 Oklahoma State looking to show that the team is for real against rival Oklahoma. Notre Dame has a must-win game at No. 24 Syracuse, as does Boston College at Seton Hall. Out west, Utah chases Air Force for the Mountain West conference lead by visiting Wyoming.

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