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The Morning Dish – Friday, January 6, 2017

January 6, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has furnished more than its share of scoring machines in the league’s 36-year history. It’s really quite a list.

From its birth, the MAAC has been blessed with players who could fill it up. Army’s Kevin Houston (1986-87 season), Alvin Young of Niagara (1998-99) and the great Keydren Clark of St. Peter’s (two consecutive years in 2003-04 and 2004-05) all were national scoring champions. La Salle’s Lionel Simmons is the No. 3 scorer in NCAA Division I history, while Clark isn’t far behind in seventh.

From Steve Burtt (Iona), Houston and Jim McCaffrey (Holy Cross), to Simmons and his teammates Doug Overton and Randy Woods, to Doremus Bennerman (Siena), to more recent stars like Clark, Luis Flores (Manhattan) and Jason Thompson (Rider) and take your pick of Iona guards in recent years. Pick a year, almost any year, and you can probably find a MAAC player who was among the top snipers in the country.

Fairfield’s Curtis Cobb put his name in the books next to them last night with one of the most electric performances of the season. The Stags’ sophomore guard exploded for 46 points, leading his team to a 97-79 win at Manhattan. His 47 points are the second-most in Division I this season, just one shy of the 47 scored by Kentucky’s Malik Monk against North Carolina last month.

Cobb set a new school single-game record and tied the MAAC regular season single-game record that has lasted for 32 years. That was originally set by Holy Cross’s McCaffrey, who lit up Iona for 46 points on Jan. 31, 1985, when the Crusaders were a member of the conference.

No one has been able to break that record since, including McCaffrey, who scored 43 points in a game against Manhattan just 10 days after his record-setting performance. (Iona’s A.J. English did tie the mark with 46 points against Fairfield just last year.) Cobb finished this one by making 16 of 23 field goals, including 9 of 12 from three-point range. He also tied the school’s record for triples in a game.

Cobb entered the night averaging a solid 14.8 points per game, but raised that to 17.2 with just one game. A starter from his first game at Fairfield, he has been part of a nice turnaround the past two years. The Stags went from seven wins the year before to 19 last year, and this year are 8-5 overall, have a win over Boston College and at 3-1 in the MAAC are in an early tie for the top spot in the conference. Cobb is far more than the player with the haunting tattoos on his shoulders and will be remembered for a long time for one of the all-time nights in the history of a conference that is no stranger to great performances.

Side Dishes:

  • It was a night full of barnburners in the Big Ten. Ohio State just missed out on a chance for a marquee win at home, falling to Purdue 76-75. The Buckeyes will be without Keita Bates-Diop for the rest of the season, coach Thad Matta announced after the game, as the OSU player will have surgery on a stress fracture in his leg.
  • Minnesota earned its second straight road win, topping Northwestern 70-66. And Nebraska moved to 3-0 in conference, withstanding some putrid free throw shooting for a 93-90 double-overtime win over Iowa. Glenn Watson continues to emerge as a player who can fill it up, and he scored 34 for the Cornhuskers and was 7-for-8 from three-point range.
  • Gonzaga was an offensive machine in a 95-80 win at San Francisco, shooting 61% from the field. Nigel Williams-Goss scored 36 points, and the Bulldogs never let the homestanding Dons seriously threaten the upset. Not to be outdone in the WCC, Saint Mary’s shot 56% in a convincing 81-68 win over BYU, a game where Jock Landale flirted with a triple-double. We cannot wait for the games this year between the Zags and Gaels.
  • UCLA eased by California 81-71 to move to 15-1, while Arizona handled Utah 66-56 as Dusan Ristic led the way with 18 points. Also in the Pac-12: Arizona State surprised Colorado 78-77, a damaging loss for the Buffaloes, who more and more are looking ticketed to an NCAA Tournament play-in game.
  • Two ships passed in the night as Memphis defeated Connecticut 70-61-the Tigers are on the way up under Tubby Smith, while the Huskies continue to struggle.
  • Middle Tennessee State outlasted Rice 80-77 on the road in a dandy in Conference USA, winning despite the Owls’ Egor Koulechov’s 31 points and 14 rebounds. Also in C-USA, Marshall snuck by Old Dominion 90-86 in overtime to hold serve at home.
  • Bucknell is quietly 11-5 and moved to 3-0 in the Patriot League with a 69-60 win at American, the Bison’s second road win in league play. Boston University is also 3-0 in the Patriot after a 71-53 win at Navy.
  • UNC Wilmington is now 14-2 after a 90-72 win at Drexel. The Seahawks just continue to roll.
  • A rematch of the last Northeast Conference title game was all any could’ve asked for, with Fairleigh Dickinson edging Wagner 70-69. The Knights showed some serious toughness on the road, just as they did in winning in Staten Island in the NEC final in March. Kudos to CBS Sports Network for televising this one.
  • News from Thursday: longtime Austin Peay coach Dave Loos is taking a leave of absence as he continues to battle cancer. Loos is recovering from cancer of the lymph nodes, and the chemotherapy has taken a toll even as Loos gamely has stayed on the bench. Governors assistant coach Jay Bowen will serve as the interim coach, and he was in charge in the team’s 76-67 loss to Tennessee Tech in an Ohio Valley game Thursday.

Tonight’s Menu: It’s Friday, with a whole eight games on the schedule, but five of them are on national TV and many of them are very worthy of your time.

  • Akron is a favorite in the MAC once again, and the night starts with the Zips hosting Western Michigan (6:30 p.m. Eastern, CBSSN). Later in the evening, Kent State is on the road at Ohio University (9 p.m., ESPNU).
  • Iona and Monmouth resume their series that turned into a rivalry last year, and one of the most heated ones anywhere at that (7 p.m., ESPNU). Both teams have a few struggles in the first half of the year, but this should be entertaining.
  • Two of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 square off with Rhode Island at Dayton (7 p.m., ESPN2). The Rams could use a nice road win, but the Flyers are starting to heat up.
  • Yet another big conference game is in the Horizon, where Oakland is at Valparaiso (9 p.m., ESPN2).
  • Not making the TV cut for the night: Rider heads to upstate New York to face Marist in the MAAC, while Wisconsin-Milwaukee faces Wisconsin-Green Bay and Detroit Mercy is at Illinois-Chicago in the Horizon.

Have an outstanding Friday and first full weekend of the new year.

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