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February 26, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Thursday, February 26th

St. Joseph’s steamrolls past Minutemen: St. Joseph’s continued their quest for the undefeated season as they knocked off the Minutemen of UMass yesterday with relative ease, 83-58. Jameer Nelson scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, while Delonte West picked up 15 of his 23 in the second half. St. Joseph’s has already clinched the Atlantic 10 regular season title, something they would like to extend into a conference tournament title. The Minutemen never got closer then 10 once the second half began, scary.

Baylor University cleared: District judge Ralph Strother dismissed the final count of a wrongful death suit filed against Baylor University by the father of slain basketball player Patrick Dennehy Jr. Earlier in the month, six other claims had been dismissed by a judge, including those for gross negligence by the University as well as other claims of wrongful death. Dennehy’s father was seeking an undisclosed amount from the University.

In other Big 12 action: Oklahoma lost a big game, while Iowa State won their big game in the Big 12’s race for the bubblicious tournament spots. Oklahoma fell victim to Colorado’s Antoine McGee, who scored all 10 of his points in overtime. The loss is the Sooner’s 3rd straight, and it drops them into a tie for seventh with Iowa State, who took care of business against Kansas State, 75-69. These two bubble teams have their jobs cut out for them, especially Oklahoma, who travels to Kansas on Sunday. In other Big 12 action, Baylor got their first road win of the season as they continued their dominance over Texas A&M. Who says Texas basketball rules?

Mississippi State wins SEC West regular season title: Mississippi State must have been used to winning the SEC West regular season title, after all, it was only last year that they cut down the nets. The Bulldogs shot 56 percent from the field, while LSU could only amass 35 percent in the 84-58 victory over the LSU Tigers. The Bulldogs had four players in double figure scoring, and finished the game 7 of 16 from behind the arc. They outrebounded the Tigers by 11, had 10 more assists and made 2 more free-throws. Lawrence Roberts was the leading scorer with 14 points and 7 rebounds. The Bulldogs will travel to SEC West rival Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The Wolfpack feasts on Yellow Jackets: North Carolina State will be fighting with Duke atop the ACC standings until the season ends, and they got a big win over a Yellow Jacket team that needed a victory to stay above five hundred in conference play. After losing to Clemson a week earlier, North Carolina State used the Yellow Jacket’s bad shooting from the line as well as a rebounding edge to hold off any late push by Georgia Tech. It was another big road win for the Wolfpack, who if overlooked for a number one seed in the tournament, will have to win big games in foreign territory, as Duke holds the slight edge over them in regards to seeding at this point in the season.

7 game winning streak for the Illini: Illinois needed a victory to stay in sole possession of second place in Big Ten competition, and they got it with strong defense. Illinois had an 11 rebound edge over Iowa, taking control of the defensive glass from the beginning. Iowa did their own damage to themselves by shooting 39 percent from the floor, 31 percent from behind the arc. Dee Brown assumed control of the offense from the outset, as he scored 11 in the first half. He finished the game with a double-double, with 18 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds.

Falling Seminoles do make noise, Wake Forest pushes them: Wake Forest rallied from 17 down to beat ACC challenger Florida State 90-87 in overtime and remains in third place in the ACC standings. The top three teams in the conference (Duke, North Carolina State and Wake Forest) are now beginning to move away from the pack, and the Demon Deacons can thank Justin Gray and his 31 points for helping them narrow the large deficit. The Seminoles had a 22 game road losing streak in ACC play that dated back to March of 2001, and now can tack one more up on that board. The Seminoles have lost four of six and have quickly become a bubble team.

Louisville doesn’t play to win, loses: Louisville has lost four in a row, the first time that this has happened since Rick Pitino arrived to coach the Cardinals. On the other hand, DePaul has won 9 of its last 11, none bigger then contributing to the late-season mishaps of the Cardinals, except maybe their game against Memphis in early January. Who would have thought that Memphis would be atop Conference USA this late in February, but there they are. DePaul is one of two teams to have beaten them in conference play, and one of only four the entire season, which bodes well for DePaul making the tournament. Depaul was led by Quemont Greer, who had 19 points and hit the go-ahead shot in overtime to win it.

In other games: Wisconsin beat lowly Penn State 68-45 to stay on the heels of Illinois in Big Ten competition. Kentucky rolled over Tennessee 92-60, making up for the 20-7 beating that they were handed in football against the Volunteers. James White led Cincinnati over Saint Louis with a career high 23 points and 7 assists. The 77-52 victory kept the Bearcats within one game of Memphis in Conference USA.

Two has-beens duke it out, Florida wins: Florida and South Carolina once were at the top of their respective games, with Florida occupying the number one slot in many polls, and South Carolina in the Top 25 for the first time in a while. Now, both are struggling for bubble positioning, and the Gators got the better of the Gamecocks yesterday. The two teams are now tied for second with Vanderbilt, who defeated Mississippi to keep their hopes alive. South Carolina has the edge, having won 20 games already. Florida can only win 19 before the conference tournament.

Of little consequence other then in LA: USC and UCLA met for the second time this year, and USC won for the second time this year, and the fourth straight time in two years. It is the Trojans longest winning streak against the Bruins in 61 years, and it comes on the heels of a most disappointing season for both teams. Desmon Farmer scored 9 straight points in overtime, and finished with 28 points in his final home game in his four years at the University. Farmer is third in the conference in scoring, behind Ike Diogu of Arizona State and Luke Jackson of Oregon.

Rupp Player of the Year Finalists: The Adolph F. Rupp Trophy for college basketball player of the year narrowed down its finalists for the 2003-2004 season. The award, which lives in the shadows of the Wooden Award, has selected Chris Duhon (Duke), J.J. Redick (Duke), Julius Hodge (North Carolina State), Emeka Okafor (Connecticut), Hakim Warrick (Syracuse), Ryan Gomes (Providence), Josh Childress (Stanford), Ike Diogu (Arizona State), Andre Emmett (Texas Tech), Matt Frieje (Vanderbilt), Francisco Garcia (Louisville), Devin Harris (Wisconsin), Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph’s), Lawrence Roberts (Mississippi State), Blake Stepp (Gonzaga), and Bracey Wright (Indiana).

UC Irvine suspends forward Mike Efevberha indefinitely: Forward Mike Efevberha was suspended indefinitely for violating team and department rules said Anteaters coach Pat Douglass. Efevberha averages 11.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

Tonight’s Menu:

Manhattan looks to extend its eight game winning streak against Rider, Vermont looks to keep pace with Boston University when playing Albany, Arizona is hosting Washington in a battle for second place in the Pac-10, Valparaiso is at Duke, Oregon State hopes to be known as the Cardinal killer when it travels to number one Stanford, Utah State looks to regain sole possession of first place in the Big West conference against Long Beach State and Gonzaga will battle last year’s West Coast conference champion San Diego.

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