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February 24, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, February 24th

A First for the Seniors: In the only match-up of ranked teams, No. 11 Texas throttled No. 21 Kansas 82-67. Brandon Mouton had 23 points to lead the Longhorns to their seniors’ first victory over Kansas. Texas built a double digit lead in the first half but Kansas cut it to nine at the break and four early in the second half before an 18-4 Longhorn run squelched the comeback attempt. Keith Langford led four Jayhawks in double figures with 17 points in the losing effort.

Orangeman Move off the Bubble: Syracuse solidified its dance chances with a 64-59 win over Villanova. The sloppy game featured 44 fouls and 38 turnovers and neither team shot over 40 percent. Hakim Warrick almost had the triple-double coaches don’t like with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight turnovers. Gerry McNamara had 18 points including six free throws in the final minute to ice the game. Curtis Sumter led the Wildcats with twelve points and ten boards.

Full Slate in the Mountain West: BYU moved within a game-and-a-half of first with a 67-61 win over first place Air Force. A win would have clinched the first seed in the MWC tournament for Air Force but the Cougars kept their slim hopes at the regular season conference title alive. Rafael Araujo and Mark Bigelow each scored 21 points as BYU shot 82 percent in the second half to erase a three point halftime deficit. Utah kept pace with BYU in second place behind a 73-43 drubbing of New Mexico, Nick Jacobson had a career-high 28 points for the Utes. UNLV moved over .500 with a 95-80 win over Wyoming and San Diego State beat Colorado State 72-64 to round out the MWC action.

Miners Hang on to WAC lead: Three of the top Western Athletic Conference teams were in action on Monday night as UTEP held onto first place with a 71-62 win over then second place Hawaii. John Tofi led the Miners with 22 points and ten rebounds while Michael Kuebler had 22 points for the Rainbow Warriors. The loss was Hawaii’s third straight as they fell to fourth place in the conference. Rice stayed a half game behind UTEP with a 63-60 win over Fresno State, Michael Harris had 17 points and ten rebounds to lead the Owls.

Winning without Their Star: Vermont played their first game at home without Taylor Coppenrath, the nation’s fourth leading scorer. They defeated Hartford 83-60 behind 25 points from TJ Sorrentine. The win was the Catamounts 14th conference win which set a school record and guaranteed them no worse than a second seed in the America East tournament. They trail conference leader Boston University by one game but would need BU to lose both its remaining games to claim first place since BU would likely win the tie breakers. With the America East championship game at the home of the highest remaining seed, Vermont would have to earn its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament at Boston University if the seeds win out. The Catamounts did win at BU earlier this season and in last year’s America East championship game but both those games were played with Coppenrath.

Upset at the Top: Fairleigh Dickinson moved within one game of first place in the Northeast Conference with a 86-64 win over first place Monmouth. Gordon Klaiber led five Knights in double figures with 20 points as FDU opened the second half with a 21-0 run to take control of the game. If Monmouth slips up this Thursday against St. Francis NY, next Monday’s Fairleigh Dickinson-St. Francis NY battle could be for the all-important number one seed in the NEC tournament.

Another Import Heads back Home: Following in the footsteps of Christian Drejer, reports out of Providence indicate that Providence forward Maris Laska has left the team to play professionally in Europe. Laska had been a senior but had been averaging only 1.8 points and 5.3 minutes a game which were down from his 21.2 minutes and 9.0 points per game career averages coming into the season. According to sources, he informed Coach Tim Welsh of his decision Monday and did not travel with the team to South Bend for the team’s Tuesday tilt with Notre Dame.

Whaley Waves Goodbye: Junior college transfer Robert Whaley has left the Cincinnati Bearcats citing personal reasons. He had been effective in limited action averaging 6.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game but had yet to become the impact player expected. Whaley had originally signed with Missouri until they withdrew their scholarship once rape allegations surfaced. Coach Bob Huggins hopes things will turn around for Whaley and has accepted departed players back to the team in the past.

Kline Under the Knife: Indiana Sophomore forward Steve Kline is officially out for the season having had surgery on his right knee. He injured it against Purdue on February 14th and is expected to be healthy for the start of next season. Before the injury, Kline had been averaging 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Kartelo Facing Charges: Purdue senior center Ivan Kartelo has been released on bond after being jailed for preliminary charges of battery and public intoxication for allegedly punching a bar bouncer. The incident happened early Sunday morning and Kartelo did attend practice later that day. Coach Gene Keady is still mulling over in-house discipline with the possibility of missing the next game Sunday at Wisconsin. Kartelo has started 19 games this year and averaged 5.4 points and 6.0 rebounds.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Big Ten leader Michigan State travels to state rival Michigan for a key conference battle. Despite a poor non-conference showing, the Spartans appeared to have sewn up an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with a strong 10-3 Big Ten record but at 6-6 in the Big Ten and 15-8 overall, the Wolverines are squarely on the bubble.

• The top three Big East schools are all on the road as No. 5 Pittsburgh takes on Georgetown, No. 8 UConn takes on St. John’s and No. 19 Providence takes on Notre Dame. Seton Hall also will try and earn a win on the road at Miami.

• Maryland hopes to bounce back from their latest loss against Duke tonight against Clemson. No. 18 North Carolina looks for a tough ACC road win at Virginia.

• Oklahoma State takes its Big 12 leading record and No. 7 ranking on the road to Missouri while No. 22 Texas Tech tries for a road win against Nebraska.

•Conference USA leader and No. 24 Memphis looks to extend its conference lead with a game at home against Southern Miss.

•Three teams put perfect conference records on the line tonight. No. 20 Southern Illinois will try to move to 16-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference when they take on Creighton at home. Fresh off a Bracket Buster win over Fresno State, East Tennessee State puts its perfect 14-0 mark in the Southern Conference to the test at home against UT-Chattanooga. Austin Peay looks to bounce back from a Bracket Buster loss to Wichita State and puts a 14-0 Ohio Valley Conference mark to the test against Tennessee Tech.

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