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February 19, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, February 19th

The Upsets

There were a few too many upsets yesterday, six to be exact. The ACC had some problems, as did Conference USA (if you were to count Louisville’s recent loss). Here is the breakdown on each excruciating, or joyous occasion, depending on what part of the country you inhabit.

Clemson over North Carolina State 60-55: To go from the top of the podium to the bottom so quickly must hurt, especially when there is an opportunity to take control of the ACC. North Carolina State did not know it at the time, but Duke was prepped to lose, which would have positioned the Wolfpack alongside Duke in first place of the ACC, unarguably the strongest conference in the nation. However, Clemson, the mighty Clemson, whose biggest win came against East Tennessee State, the pride of the Southern conference, was in their way. It should be noted that Clemson should not be taken lightly; with big wins over Florida State, North Carolina and Boston College. East Tennessee State is also undefeated in Southern conference play and takes a 22-4 record into what they hope to be another conference title. North Carolina State did not know this, and proceeded to shoot themselves out of the game in the first half. In the end, the Wolfpack shot only 29 percent as a team from the field and 15 percent as a team from behind the arc. They can take home the knowledge that even the worst team in the ACC can beat the best team on any given day.

Wake Forest over Duke 90-84: Freshman Chris Paul led Wake Forest over Duke to hand the Blue Devils their second straight loss, the first time they have lost two in a row all season. Wake Forest had lost 15 of their last 16 to Duke, with their previous win occurring last year when Chris Paul was a member of the mob rushing team, not the other way around. This time, he had front row seats as he scored 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting. For good measure, he handed out 8 assists, grabbed 5 boards, stole the ball 4 times and shot 2 of 3 from behind the arc. Paul scored 12 of his 23 in the final five minutes, and it was only fitting that his free throws in the final seconds sealed the victory for the Demon Deacons. Duke had been a victim of the number one curse this season, falling to North Carolina State on last Sunday; but, with North Carolina State falling to Clemson earlier in the day, Duke can relax and lose a few, a luxury that many team this late in the season can’t afford.

Colorado over Texas Tech 85-75: Texas Tech is not finishing the season strongly. Having lost four of their last six games, Texas Tech was struggling, and badly needed a victory over the middle-of-the-pack Buffaloes, who hadn’t beaten a ranked team all year (they beat Missouri which wasn’t ranked at the time). It was the big game of Colorado’s big man, 7-footer David Harrison, who almost had a triple double, Ben Wallace style, with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. Andre Emmett was looking to break Nick Collison’s Big 12 career scoring record, but it will have to wait another night as he was held to only 16 points on 50% shooting; not bad for any other player outside of Emmett, but don’t forget the coach that he plays for and the larger then life expectations that he has.

Illinois over Wisconsin 65-57: When Illinois and Wisconsin first took the floor, nobody in the crowd except for those die hard fans could tell which team was which. The teams had almost identically colored jerseys and shorts, and it apparently gave Illinois an advantage over the Badgers. Deron Williams was the hot shooter with 31 points on 5 of 9 shooting from behind the arc, and the win made up for a 76-56 loss that left a bad taste in the mouths of Illini faithful. Williams’s attained retribution for what he called personal remarks made by Wisconsin’s leading scorer Devin Harris, and held him to only 16 points on 12 shots. The advantage was on the line, where Illinois shot 21 of 27, while Wisconsin shot only 5 of 8.

Auburn over LSU 80-68: LSU was on the edge of the Hoopville Top 25 poll, but their SEC leading defense gave up the most points it had all year long, and Auburn walked away with the victory. Jamie Lloreda, LSU’s top rebounder, could only watch from the ground as Auburn out-rebounded LSU 37-29. Lloreda was playing on a twice injured ankle suffered in the victory over Florida on Saturday, not to mention the bursitis in his left knee that he has been battling for most of the season. Auburn got twenty 20 points from Marco Killingsworth and 21 from Ian Young, both well over their season averages.

UAB over Cincinnati 80-69: Cincinnati has had a rough time of it since winning its first thirteen games. It hasn’t put together an ounce of consistency, and now they are in third place in Conference USA, behind upstart UAB and idle Memphis. In this game, Cincinnati had an edge in almost every statistical category except for two, turnovers and points. The 20 turnovers by Cincinnati was something that it couldn’t recover from, despite out-rebounding UAB 44-29 as well as shooting 5 percentage points better from the floor. UAB was led by Morris Finley, who was more effective from the line, 5 of 6, then from the field, 3 of 12. That was the story of the night for UAB, and Cincinnati had no cure for it.

On a lighter note: A Division III basketball game between Rutgers-Camden and Montclair State was suspended by referees after the teams got into a brawl under the basket. There was 4:03 remaining in the first half when the game was halted, and no injuries were reported. On another bizarre note, Bob Knight dropped his lawsuit against the University of Indiana, a suit which had gone nowhere in court, and which Knight’s attorneys had already lost on appeal.

Prep School Scandal: Prepstars Recruiter’s Handbook reported recently of a scandal involving a Washington, DC school that particpated in the 2003 Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament. It turns out that Marriott Charter School’s head coach, Lonnie Brooks, was a convicted felon, but the school did not find that out until late last month. He was immediately dismissed from the school, but that isn’t all: two players were also dismissed at that time and the school cancelled its remaining schedule. The players dismissed were not enrolled at the school, but were playing basketball. Anthony Ivory, a 6’9″, 300-pound post player, and Jerome Habel, a 6’9″, 210-pound post player, were not enrolled at the school and must go elsewhere to qualify for freshman eligibility next year. Ivory signed in November with Providence, while Habel recently committed to Florida State.

The Winners

St. Joseph’s continues to roll, sets numerous records: Jameer Nelson and Tyrone Barley became the winningest players in St. Joseph’s history, with 91 wins. This came on the night that the Hawks clinched the Atlantic 10 East division title, which gives them a bye until the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. The 72-54 win over Fordham also puts the Hawks well on their way to becoming the first team since UNLV in 1991 to be undefeated entering the NCAA tournament, something that Stanford also has a chance at doing.

Calhoun anxious over Miami (FL): Jim Calhoun was seen pacing the sideline, and at one point kicked over a chair in UConn’s 76-54 victory over Miami (FL). Perhaps Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek should emulate coach Calhoun after his team’s loss to a comparably bad opponent. Emeka Okafor, of course, had a lot of points and a lot of rebounds (18 and 15 to be exact).

Kansas versus Baylor, the ultimate in futility: Kansas had just lost to Oklahoma State and Nebraska by an average of 19.5 points per game. It needed a win over Baylor. But it wasn’t until two three pointers were drained by J.R. Giddens with 11 minutes left to play that Kansas really pulled away. Wayne Simien added 24 points on 11 of 14 shooting.

Stockton Honored, Stepp injured: Gonzaga retired the number of John Stockton before the start of the second half of the Zags game against Portland. Nine minutes later, their point guard of the present, Blake Stepp, was cut above his right eye and left the game. The cut required several stitches, but trainer Steve DeLong was positive that Stepp would return for the Bulldogs game against Tulsa.

Other Winners: Kentucky, Southern Illinois and Texas rounded out the day with wins, with the Salukis Stetson Hairston most impressive with 23 points on 4 of 5 shooting from behind the arc. Texas remains one game back of Oklahoma State in the Big 12.

Tonight’s Menu:

Georgia Tech is at Maryland, while Arizona visits Oregon in the night’s two best match-ups. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Stanford at USC, where the Cardinals will look to continue their marvelous season. Utah State is in action at UC Riverside as well.

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