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February 23, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Monday, February 23rd

There’s No Place Like Home: No. 3 Duke returned to Cameron Indoor Stadium with a two-game losing streak after losses at No. 14 NC State and No. 15 Wake Forest. The Blue Devils ended that streak against Maryland, 86-63, while stretching their home winning streak to 40 games. The fans and the team share an oppressive intensity that can disrupt even the most composed squads. Duke forced 22 turnovers, and sophomore guard J.J. Redick had a great game with 20 points as the Blue Devils cruised to victory. Maryland struggled to find anyone not named John Gilchrist to handle Duke’s pressure. The sophomore guard led the Terrapins with 14 points and eight rebounds. The loss drops Maryland to 4-8 in conference play and dims the Terps’ NCAA hopes.

Wake Forest Continues to Surge: Fresh off a win against those Blue Devils, No. 15 Wake Forest visited No. 17 Georgia Tech and jumped all over the Yellow Jackets, building a 19-4 lead in the first six minutes of the game. The Demon Deacons tried to milk that big lead through the rest of the game, but Georgia Tech methodically narrowed the lead throughout the second half. Junior guard B.J. Elder scored only one point in the first half because he was limited by foul trouble. But Elder exploded in the second half for 26 points as the Yellow Jackets tied the score at 71 late in the game. Wake Forest turned to its hot player, sophomore guard Justin Gray, who finished with 26 points. The Demon Deacons survived Georgia Tech’s comeback attempt, winning 80-76 to claim sole possession of third place in the ACC.

Sluggish Is Good Enough for NC State: No. 14 NC State returned to Raleigh, N.C., after a loss at ACC bottom feeder Clemson earlier last week. The Wolfpack played Washington and won 77-72, despite another poor shooting performance. Washington appeared prepared to upset NC State as sophomore forward Bobby Jones led the Huskies with 22 points and nine rebounds. Jones fouled out in crunch time so the hottest Huskie was on the bench when Washington had a chance to win the game with 20 seconds remaining. Sophomore guard Brandon Roy missed a shot with the score at 73-72. Senior forward Marcus Melvin, who led NC State with 16 points and eight rebounds, and junior guard Julius Hodge made a pair of free throws to give NC State a 77-72 victory.

Michigan Freezes Badgers: No. 12 Wisconsin visited Michigan looking to pick up a win after a tough loss at Illinois. But the Wolverines refused to roll over and shut down the Badgers’ offensive attack. Michigan held Wisconsin under 38 percent shooting. The Badgers made only 3-of-20 three-point attempts. Senior forward Bernard Robinson Jr. matched that total for Michigan, providing the leadership to guide the Wolverines to victory. He finished with 11 points, three rebounds and six assists. Sophomore guard Lester Abram led Michigan in scoring with 17 points. Junior guard Devin Harris proved that he is the Badgers’ most valuable player, playing every minute of the game and leading the team with 18 points. But he made only 5-of-20 field goal attempts and never seemed to find a consistent rhythm.

Boston College Makes a Statement: One of the many teams trying to turn a bubble into an NCAA Tournament bid, Boston College made a statement to the selection committee by slamming Rutgers in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The Eagles won 76-44 as Boston College owned the second half, 44-17. Rutgers had been in the game until shortly after halftime. Such a dramatic swing in momentum could carry over into future games and perhaps help Boston College earn a spot in the tournament. Freshman forward Jared Dudley led the Eagles with 20 points, and senior forward Herve Lamizana was one of only two Rutgers players in double figures, leading the team with 13 points.

Another Boston School Makes a Statement: Boston University let the rest of the America East conference know that the Terriers are now the team to beat. For most of the season, Vermont led the standings, but the Catamounts’ star, Taylor Coppenrath, is done for the year with an injury. Boston came from 12 points down in the second half yesterday to beat Northeastern 82-68. Senior forward Jason Grochowalski led the Terriers with 21 points. Northeastern appeared prepared to upset the conference’s best team, leading 38-28 at halftime. Sophomore guard Jose Juan Barea scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished seven assists to lead Northeastern in the losing effort.

Good Thing We Didn’t Challenge Iraq to a Game of Basketball: As this country’s army and navy servicemen struggle to create stability in the chaos that is Iraq, the Army and Navy basketball teams simply create chaos – for their fans. Army played one of the worst offensive games in the shot-clock era as the Black Knights lost to Bucknell 75-25. Army managed just nine points in the first half. Navy fared a tad better, managing 11 points in the first half of a 76-47 beatdown at home against Holy Cross. At least Air Force is a steady winning team, when the Falcons don’t play the likes of Texas Pan American (37-35 loss on Feb. 16).

Tonight’s Menu:

• No. 11 Texas will attempt to reach the 20-win mark at home against No. 21 Kansas in a Big XII battle for second place, behind No. 7 Oklahoma State. No 25 Syracuse will try to avoid joining Villanova on the bubble as the Orangemen host the Wildcats. Out west, Air Force can take one step closer to a Mountain West conference championship with a win at BYU, and Utah will try to improve maintain hopes for an at-large bid with a home game against New Mexico.

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