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March 7, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Sunday, March 7th

No Perfection In Seattle: No. 1 Stanford couldn’t finish off a perfect regular season, shooting just 39% from the floor and had 18 turnovers in a 75-62 loss at surging Washington. Tre Simmons scored 16 points to lead four players in double figures for the Huskies (17-10, 12-6 Pac Ten), who won for the 12th time in 13 games. Stanford (26-1, 17-1) got 21 points from Chris Hernandez in the defeat.

First Bids Awarded: Four NCAA Tournament bids went out on Saturday in conference championship games. East Tennessee State (27-5) won the Southern Conference Tournament with a 78-62 win over UT-Chattanooga. Liberty (18-14) won the Big South Tournament with an 89-44 thumping of High Point. Central Florida (25-5) won the Atlantic Sun Tournament with a 60-55 win over Troy State (23-6). Murray State (28-5) handed Austin Peay (21-9) its only loss all season against an Ohio Valley Conference team in the championship game, 66-60.

Blue Devils Sweep Rivalry: Luol Deng had 25 points to lead No. 3 Duke over No. 15 North Carolina, 70-65, in another classic matchup in the great rivalry. Deng rebounded from a 1-14 performance in the Blue Devils’ loss against Georgia Tech on Thursday, and Duke (25-4, 13-3 ACC) shot over 48% from the floor and held the Tar Heels (19-8, 8-8) below 37%.

Panthers Clinch Top Seed: No. 6 Pittsburgh used a big second half to complete a comeback from their worst start of the season in a 59-45 win over Villanova. The Wildcats ran out to an early 17-3 lead, but the Panthers (27-3, 13-3 Big East) took over from there, cutting the deficit to five by halftime and outscoring the Wildcats 42-23 in the second half. The 27 wins are a school record for the Panthers. Chevy Troutman led the Panthers with 17 points, while Allan Ray led Villanova (14-15, 6-10) with a game-high 24 points.

Calm, Cool and Collected: No. 5 Mississippi State clinched its first outright SEC title in 41 years with an 82-81 overtime win at Alabama, but it certainly didn’t come easy. The Bulldogs trailed by 18 points early in the second half and needed a last-second basket by Timmie Bowers (17 of his 20 points in the second half and overtime) to send the game to overtime, then a layup in traffic from Bowers with a second left in the extra session to win. Mississippi State (25-2, 14-2 SEC) set school regular season records for overall and league wins and finished 12-0 on the road. Lawrence Roberts supported Bowers with 18 points and 21 rebounds. Alabama (16-11, 8-8) was led by Ernest Shelton’s 25 points and 9 rebounds and Antoine Pettway’s 21 points and 8 rebounds.

Big 12 Champs: No. 7 Oklahoma State clinched the Big 12 regular season title with a 70-41 romp over visiting Texas A&M. The Cowboys (24-3, 14-2 Big 12) got 20 points from John Lucas and held the Aggies (7-20, 0-16) to 34% shooting. The Cowboys led 30-16 at the half and never let the Aggies get closer than 12 in the second half. For the Cowboys, it is their first outright Big 12 title since 1964-65, while the Aggies are on the other end of history: they joined the 1998-99 Baylor team as the only teams to go winless in Big 12 play.

Eagles Gain Momentum, Friars Lose It: Boston College may finally feel safe about their NCAA Tournament hopes, as they won their fifth straight game to close out the regular season with a 63-54 decision at No. 13 Providence. The Eagles jumped out to an early 23-4 lead as Providence missed its first eight shots and shot just 19.2% in the first half. Providence (20-7, 11-5 Big East) made several charges in the second half, getting as close as six on several occasions, but no closer, as they shot just over 28% for the game. Jared Dudley led the Eagles (21-8, 10-6) with 15 points and 8 rebounds, while Craig Smith added 12 points and 8 rebounds.

Badgers Do All They Can: No. 14 Wisconsin got 26 points from Devin Harris and shut down Indiana to pick up their second win in a row in Bloomington, this one a 70-52 decision. With the win, the Badgers (21-7, 12-4 Big Ten) can claim a share of the Big Ten title, but they need Illinois to lose on Sunday. The Hoosiers (13-14, 7-9) shot just 34.5% from the floor and got just 8 points on 4-16 shooting from Bracey Wright.

Wolfpack Clinch Second Place: Engin Atsur and Julius Hodge had 17 points apiece to lead No. 16 North Carolina State to an 81-70 win over No. 11 Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Atsur went 5-7 from long range and added six assists for the Wolfpack (19-8, 11-5 ACC), who clinch second place in the ACC with the win. Justin Gray had a game-high 23 points to lead Wake Forest (19-8, 9-7).

Yellow Jackets Finish Strong: Fresh off a big upset at Duke, No. 19 Georgia Tech got a 63-60 home win over Florida State as Marvin Lewis had 16 of his 21 points in the second half of his final home game. The Yellow Jackets (22-8, 9-7 ACC) also got 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists from Jarrett Jack. Florida State (18-12, 6-10) got 12 points each from Adam Waleskowski and Anthony Richardson. The Seminoles lost every road game in ACC play.

All Tied Up: After Saturday’s games, Conference USA has five — that’s right, five — co-champions. The team that gets the top seed in the Conference USA Tournament isn’t one that many figured in the preseason.

No. 12 Cincinnati got a three-pointer and two free throws from Tony Bobbitt in the final 36 seconds to knock off No. 22 Memphis 83-79 in a well-played game. Bobbitt had 20 points and 7 rebounds and Jason Maxiell added 19 points and 9 rebounds for the Bearcats (21-6, 12-4 C-USA), while Sean Banks led Memphis (21-6, 12-4) with 28 points and Antonio Burks was his primary support with 16 points and 8 assists.

UAB jumped into the fray with an 87-62 win over visiting TCU. The Blazers (19-8, 12-4) forced 22 turnovers and got 18 points and 8 rebounds from Gabe Kennedy.

Charlotte got into the mix with a 79-65 win over visiting Tulane, getting 20 points and 10 rebounds from Curtis Withers and a career-high 16 points from freshman Martin Iti. The 49ers (20-7, 12-4) shot 49% from the field and held a 43-32 edge on the glass.

The last team to join the tie, on the day’s final game, is also the top seed in next weekend’s Conference USA Tournament at Cincinnati. DePaul shot an astonishing 66.7% from the field en route to knocking off host South Florida, 78-66. The Blue Demons (19-8, 12-4) got 17 points from Quemont Greer and 16 from Sammy Mejia to lead five players in double figures.

Marquette Wins At The Last Second: Freshman Dameon Mason made a three-point play with eight-tenths of a second left to give Marquette an 81-80 upset of No. 25 Louisville. Mason swished a jumper as he got fouled by Alhaji Mohammed, tying the game at 80 before sinking the free throw to give them the win after a long inbounds pass was batted away. Steve Novak led Marquette (17-10, 8-8 C-USA) with 20 points, while Francisco Garcia had a game-high 23 points to lead the Cardinals (19-8, 9-7), who shot over 54% from the field.

Wildcats Stun Longhorns: Jeremiah Massey scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Kansas State held a 38-29 rebounding edge to upset No. 10 Texas, 58-48 in Manhattan. The teams combined to shoot 32% from the field, and the Wildcats (14-13, 6-10 Big 12) scored the last eight points of the game to put it away. Texas (21-6, 12-4) had just two players in double figures, Kenny Taylor (11 points) and Sydmil Harris (10).

Salukis Advance Easily: No. 17 Southern Illinois (25-3) had an easy time advancing to the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, blowing out Evansville 93-67 behind 18 points from Darren Brooks.

Princeton Wins Ivy: Princeton nearly blew a 20-point lead at Dartmouth, allowing the Big Green to get within four before late free throws gave them a 64-59 win. With the win, the Tigers (19-7, 12-1 Ivy) clinched the Ivy League title and will get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Judson Wallace led the Tigers with 24 points.

Top Seed Goes Down: In the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament, regular season champion Boston University was knocked off by Stony Brook, 62-58. Stony Brook got a runner by D.J. Munir (game-high 14 points) with 30.9 seconds left to take the lead for good, as the Terriers (23-5) had one last chance after missing a three-pointer and Munir missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 9.4 seconds left, but Bobby Santiago stole the ball from Chaz Carr in the final seconds to seal it.

Check out all the latest recaps during Championship Week.

Other Scores Of Note: On the last Saturday before conference tournaments completely take over, a few regular season games were noteworthy:

  • Tennessee (15-12, 7-9 SEC) got 17 points from Scooter McFadgon and shot 55% from the field in a 63-56 win over South Carolina (21-9, 8-8).
  • Georgia (15-12, 7-9 SEC) beat Vanderbilt (19-8, 8-8) 71-61 behind 21 points from Rashad Wright.
  • Auburn got 29 points and 10 rebounds from Brandon Robinson in a 78-66 win over visiting LSU (18-9, 8-8 SEC).
  • Texas Tech (21-9, 9-7 Big 12) got 23 points from Ronald Ross and shot 59% in a 72-58 win over visiting Iowa State (16-11, 7-9), which committed 23 turnovers.
  • Oklahoma (18-9, 8-8 Big 12) beat Baylor 46-41 despite shooting below 30% from the field and allowing the Bears to shoot 50%.
  • Colorado (18-9, 10-6 Big 12) got 24 points and 7 rebounds from David Harrison and 23 points and 8 rebounds from Michel Morandais in a 78-75 win over visiting Nebraska.
  • Iowa (16-11m 9-7 Big Ten) got 22 points from Jeff Horner and two free throws by Pierre Pierce with 30.6 seconds left in their 63-62 win at Purdue (17-12, 7-9).
  • Dayton (22-7, 12-4 Atlantic 10) got 33 points from Ramod Marshall in a 73-69 win at Duquesne.
  • Xavier (19-10, Atlantic 10) got 19 points and 12 rebounds from Romain Sato and rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat Temple (15-12, 9-7), 70-69.
  • Brigham Young (20-7, 10-4 Mountain West) got 21 points and 13 rebounds from Rafael Araujo, including two on a layup with a half-second remaining for an 89-88 win at UNLV.
  • Boise State (20-8, 12-6 WAC) dealt UTEP (22-6, 13-5 WAC) a potentially fatal blow in their quest for an at-large bid with a 59-45 win.
  • Rice (21-9, 12-6 WAC) shot over 54% from the field in a 71-66 win at SMU, despite 27 points by Bryan Hopkins.
  • Air Force (22-5) won its first game at Wyoming since 1989, coming back from a 10-point deficit to knock off the Cowboys 52-47.
  • Utah (21-8, 9-5 Mountain West) shot over 52% from the field and got 19 points and 8 rebounds from Tim Frost in their 66-53 win at San Diego State.

Former Coach Dies: Massachusetts color analyst and former Minuteman head coach Jack Leaman died on Saturday night at age 71. The school’s all-time winningest coach, Leaman was returning from the team’s 69-65 loss at Richmond when he collapsed between flights at Dulles International Airport. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead from an apparent heart attack. Leaman coached at the school from 1966-79 and compiled a 217-126 record, including the three years Julius Erving played there.

Tonight’s Menu

Don’t forget to check the latest recaps during Championship Week.

• The Big East regular season title is on the line as No. 8 Connecticut visits No. 24 Syracuse. Also in the Big East, Seton Hall travels downstate to take on Rutgers.

• No. 9 Kentucky hosts Florida.

• No. 20 Arizona hosts in-state rival Arizona State.

• No. 21 Kansas travels to Missouri in a big rivalry game to close out the regular season.

• No. 18 Illinois looks to stay hot and win the Big Ten regular season title, as they travel to take on Ohio State.

• Bubble teams collide in the ACC as Maryland hosts Virginia in the final regular season game for both schools.

• Conference tournament action commences in the Mid-Continent Conference, and continues in America East, Colonial, MAAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Patriot League, Sun Belt, and West Coast Conference.

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