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March 13, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 13th

Top Seed Battles: Things are looking up for No. 6 Pittsburgh, 62-53 winners over Boston College in the Big East semifinal, and looking down for No. 4 Mississippi State, 74-70 losers to Vanderbilt in overtime in the SEC Tournament. The Panthers (29-3) won a back-and-forth battle with big plays late from Carl Krauser, as the sophomore guard scored six of his 18 points in the final minute. Craig Smith led the Eagles (23-9) with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the second half to send the game to overtime, where Mississippi State’s luck ran out after surviving an overtime game with Alabama last night. The Bulldogs (25-3) didn’t get stellar outings from stars Lawrence Roberts (13 points) and Timmie Bowers (14 points, 8 turnovers), and the Commodores (21-9) took advantage, clinching the game with free throws. Mario Moore led Vanderbilt with 17 points.

Also Playing For a Top Seed: Other teams vying for a No. 1 seed that won on Friday include No. 8 Kentucky (24-4), 69-60 winners over Georgia (16-13) after losing twice to the Bulldogs in the regular season; No. 7 Oklahoma State (25-3), 83-75 winners over Iowa State (17-12) behind 25 points and 9 rebounds from Joey Graham and 23 points from John Lucas; and No. 5 Duke (26-4), 84-74 winners over Virginia (17-12) behind 27 points and 8 rebounds from Shelden Williams and 26 points from Daniel Ewing.

Another Team In: The Southland Conference held its championship game on Friday afternoon, a dandy between Stephen F. Austin and host Texas-San Antonio. Texas-San Antonio (20-12) pulled out a close game that went back and forth, 74-70 behind 23 points and 9 rebounds from Leroy Hurd.

Aggies Knocked Off: Cal State-Northridge got 27 points from Ian Boylan, and made two defensive plays in the final seconds to upset No. 23 Utah State, 63-62 in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament. Joseph Frazier, who had missed 11 games earlier in the season in a suspension for violation of team rules, hit a three-pointer from well beyond the arc with under 30 seconds left to make the difference. The Aggies (25-3) will miss the championship game for the first time since 1999.

Big East Is Down to Two: The Big East championship game on Saturday night will bear a striking resemblance to recent championship games — that’s because No. 9 Connecticut ended Villanova’s run with an 84-67 victory to advance to take on Pittsburgh in the championship game. The Huskies (26-6) jumped out to a big lead early, then broke the game open later in the second half after the Wildcats (16-16) tried to rally. Emeka Okafor did not play again Friday night, but Ben Gordon made sure that wasn’t a problem with a game-high 29 points, while Rashad Anderson added 19 and Josh Boone picked up the slack inside with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Villanova was hurt by Allan Ray’s off night, as he had just two points on 1-10 shooting and was limited due to foul trouble.

Atlantic 10 Final Is Set: The Atlantic 10 held its semifinals on Friday, with the favorites winning both games. Xavier continued its tournament run with a 70-47 blowout of George Washington, while Dayton survived against Richmond, 58-56. The surging Musketeers (22-10) got 18 points and 11 rebounds from Romain Sato and 14 points from Justin Doellman to knock off the Colonials (18-11). In handing the Spiders (20-12) a big loss while on the bubble, Dayton (24-7) got 17 points and 12 rebounds from Sean Finn and held the Spiders to 34.4% shooting.

Conference USA Finalists: No. 13 Cincinnati advanced to the Conference USA championship game with a 66-46 romp over St. Louis. The Bearcats (23-6) held the Billikens (18-12) to 27.5% shooting and were 10-21 from behind the three-point line. Tony Bobbitt had 12 points and Nick Williams had 11 as the only Bearcats in double figures. The Bearcats will take on DePaul in the championship game, as the resurrection project under Dave Leitao took its next step forward on Friday with a 75-74 overtime win over UAB. The Blue Demons (21-8) shot 49% and held a 38-25 edge on the boards, but committed 20 turnovers to help make this game interesting. UAB (20-9) got 14 points and 11 assists from Carldrell Johnson in the defeat, while the Blue Demons got 21 points and 9 rebounds from Delonte Holland.

Two Left In Los Angeles: No. 2 Stanford advanced to the Pac Ten championship game with a 70-63 win over Oregon. The Cardinal (28-1) shot over 47% from the floor and held the Ducks (15-12) below 36%, getting 18 points from Josh Childress to lead the way. They will get a rematch with surging Washington (19-10), which knocked off No. 21 Arizona 90-85 behind 20 points from Nate Robinson. Arizona (20-9) got 30 points from Hassan Adams, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Huskies.

Thrillers in Charlotte, Atlanta: No. 14 Georgia Tech got a 15-foot jumper by Jarrett Jack with 1.4 seconds left to knock off No. 17 North Carolina, 83-82 in the ACC quarterfinals in Charlotte. The Yellow Jackets (23-8) got 17 points and 17 rebounds from Luke Schenscher and 17 points from Jack, while Sean May led North Carolina (18-10) with 27 points and Rashad McCants had 25.

In Atlanta, Florida got two last-second shots in its 75-73 overtime win over Alabama in the SEC quarterfinals, but one didn’t count. With the scored tied in the final seconds of regulation, Anthony Roberson hit a three-pointer as time expired — but further review showed that the ball left his hand after the red light went on, sending the game to overtime. Then with the score tied at 73, Roberson missed a three-pointer, but freshman Lee Humphrey picked up the ball after a couple of deflections and made a jumper from the baseline as time expired to give the Gators (19-9) the win. Ernest Shelton led Alabama (17-12) with a game-high 27 points in the loss.

Key Bubble Team Results: Important bubble team results of the day include wins by Maryland and Utah and losses by Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, LSU and Florida State. Check all the latest recaps of the busy Friday of action in Championship Week.

Vermont Star Expected To Play: Vermont junior forward Taylor Coppenrath, the two-time America East Player of the Year, is expected to play in Saturday’s America East championship game against Maine. Coppenrath said last week he was shutting it down for the season, but has practiced all week and was good in Friday’s practice, which was expected to be the big test point prior to the game.

Tonight’s Menu

Check out all the latest recaps during Championship Week.

• The America East championship game is the first of 11 championship games on the day as Vermont hosts Maine.

• DePaul takes on No. 13 Cincinnati in the Conference USA championship game.

• No. 2 Stanford takes on Washington in the Pac Ten championship game, as the Cardinal looks to avenge its only loss of the season.

• The Atlantic 10 championship game pits Xavier against the host school, Dayton.

• The Big East championship game features the same two teams from the previous three years — No. 6 Pittsburgh taking on No. 9 Connecticut.

• Utah takes on UNLV in the Mountain West championship game.

• Nevada takes on UTEP in the WAC championship game.

• In the Mid-American Conference championship, Western Michigan takes on Kent State.

• The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title game has Florida A&M taking on Coppin State.

• It’s an in-state battle in the Southwest Athletic Conference championship game as Alabama State takes on Alabama A&M.

• The Big West championship game has Cal State-Northridge taking on Pacific.

• Semifinal action in the ACC features No. 5 Duke taking on No. 14 Georgia Tech, followed by No. 16 North Carolina State taking on Maryland.

• Semifinal action in the SEC features No. 8 Kentucky against South Carolina, followed by Florida taking on Vanderbilt.

• In the Big Ten semifinals, No. 12 Illinois looks to stay hot as they take on Michigan, then Michigan State takes on No. 11 Wiscsonsin.

• The Big 12 semifinal matchups have No. 7 Oklahoma State taking on Texas Tech and No. 10 Texas matching up with No. 18 Kansas.

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