Around C-USA - Weekly update December 16-22


AMERICAN DIVISION

CHARLOTTE (4-3, 0-0):  The 49ers, coming off a big win against Miami, Florida, hosted Southern Illinois in Halton Arena this past Wednesday.  The Salukis, who made the NCAA Tournament last season, allowed a show to be put on by Charlotte's KEVIN "BUTTER" JOHNSON who posted a career-high 22 points in an 80-67 win.  Shooting only 6-30 from the 3-point line, Southern Illinois was harassed the entire game by the tough 49er defense, which consists of many types of sets, resembling the "freak" defenses on the mid-1980's run by many of the nation's best coaches at the time.  

CINCINNATI (5-3, 0-0): The Bearcats took a trip this past Tuesday evening to the Meadowlands for a match-up against Oregon in the annual Jim Valvano Classic, one of the premier showcases of college basketball in the nation.  Giving Conference USA its first major non-conference win, UC downed the fifth-ranked Ducks 77-52 in what may show that this school isn't ready to give up its perch at the top of the conference.  JASON MAXIELL led the Bearcats in scoring and rebounds with 20 and 13, respectively.  Cincinnati was brought back down to earth on Sunday, however, as they fell in a tough non-conference road game at Clemson 58-51.  Clemson's senior guard EDWARD SCOTT was uncontrollable in the second half, scoring all of his 20 points in the frame.  The Bearcats were led in scoring by senior LEONARD STOKES who had 15 points in his 40 minutes of game action. 

DEPAUL (5-2, 0-0):  On Wednesday evening, the Blue Demons scored 22 points off 16 offensive rebounds and DELONTE HOLLAND had a game-high 16 points in a 72-57 victory in the Allstate Arena against Florida International.  The Golden Panthers did, however, have 3 players score in double-figures.  And Saturday, in the "Four Stars Game of the Week," the Demons traveled to Philadelphia to take on one of the Atlantic-10's best in Saint Joseph's.  In a very up-tempo game, which added to the tough atmosphere, the Hawks survived in a 65-62 game in which DePaul guard DRAKE DIENER impressed the NBA scouts in attendance with an 11 point, 6 assist game in defeat.  

EAST CAROLINA (8-1, 0-0):  George Mason came to Williams Arena on Thursday to spoil East Carolina's chance of improving to 8-0 for the season.  The Patriots did just that to their former Colonial Athletic Association counterpart with a 66-56 win.  For ECU, junior guard DERRICK WILEY recorded a career-high 27 points, but it wasn't enough as George Mason became the first team to shoot better than 40-percent from downtown against the Pirates.  Returning to the court on Saturday, ECU manhandled Campbell 86-61 in Fayetteville.  The Pirates out-rebounded their opponents impressively, with a 51-22 advantage.       

LOUISVILLE (6-1, 0-0):  The Cardinals had a busy schedule this past week.  On Tuesday in the opening round of the Billy Minardi Classic (named after Louisville coach RICK PITINO's best friend and brother-in-law who died in the terrible attacks of September 11th) UofL took on in-state opponent Eastern Kentucky.  The Cards' had no trouble stopping the Colonels in a 104-63 rout.  Freshman TAQUAN DEAN led the team in scoring with 19.  In the finals on Wednesday, the Cardinals hosted the Jaspers of Manhattan.  In his first game for Louisville, transfer MARVIN STONE put on a show for the Freedom Hall crowd tallying 19 points and 11 rebounds in an 89-62 pounding.  The Cards' came back to the court on Sunday as they hosted the Paladins of Furman.  In a total team effort where Louisville shot an incredible 48-percent from the 3-point line, the Cards' coasted to a 104-63 win.  Stone and Dean tied for the high scoring honors, with 21 apiece.     

MARQUETTE (7-1, 0-0):  The Golden Eagles extended their home winning streak to 22 on Saturday with an 89-57 rout of Elon University.  Reigning Conference USA Player of the Week, DWYANE WADE scored 29 points to go with his 3 assists.  Also for Marquette, ROBERT JACKSON had 20 points and had 8 rebounds.  For the game, the Golden Eagles scored 27 points off turnovers, while Elon could only manage 3.  This week, MU hosts Grambling on Saturday before kicking off the C-USA slate in early January.  

SAINT LOUIS (4-4, 0-0):  The Billikens started off the week in the Savvis Center on Wednesday with 83-54 victory against Grambling, halting the Tigers' three game winning streak overall.  Freshman guard ANTHONY DREJAJ led the team with 19 points, while four other SLU players recorded double-digit scoring efforts.  The second half of the game included a 24-5 run in the first 12 minutes of the period.  The Billikens then traveled to Indianapolis last Saturday to face an undefeated Butler University squad.  The Bulldogs improved to 8-0 with a 68-46 win.  For Saint Louis, their 12-point first half scoring total was by far their lowest of the season.

NATIONAL DIVISION

 
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (6-2, 0-0):  The Blazers hosted a trifecta of games last week, all against mid-major non-conference opponents, and finished up a perfect 3-0 at Bartow Arena.  On Tuesday, in their first game in nearly two weeks, UAB defeated Nicholls State 82-70 behind MORRIS FINLEY's 26-point performance, with 19 coming in the second half.  On Thursday against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Finley finished one point shy of his career-high in points with 31 as the Blazers rolled past the Islanders 108-74, in a game where A&M-CC committed a school record 33 turnovers.  And on Saturday, Alabama A&M came in to Birmingham and lost 91-69, in what was an afterthought after UAB center CEDRIC DAVIS shattered the backboard with an electrifying dunk and delayed the game 22 minutes in the second half.  It was the first time in Bartow Arena and UAB history that a player has done such a feat.  

HOUSTON (2-5, 0-0):  In the team's only game of the week, the Cougars fell to 2-5 on the season with another embarrassing loss to San Diego State 71-61 at Hofheinz Pavilion, where only 3,444 fans showed up for the game.  Outscored by 12 in the final period, Houston had a bright spot with LOUIS TRUSCOTT leading the team in points with 16, and rebounds with 12.  

MEMPHIS (5-2, 0-0): The Pyramid was the site for a tough non-conference rivalry on Thursday evening between the Tigers and the Runnin' Rebels of Mississippi.  Snapping a five game win streak by Ole Miss, Memphis prevailed in a 58-51 defensive struggle.  Freshman forward RODNEY CARNEY had a breakout game, scoring 13 points in the contest, while ANTHONY RICE and BILLY RICHMOND tied for the scoring lead with 14 points each.  The Rebels were allowed only two field goals in the final 8 minutes of the contest. 

SOUTH FLORIDA (5-3, 0-0):  The Bulls opened up the week in the Sun Dome on Tuesday evening against the Mid-American Conference's Northern Illinois.  In a game where senior point guard REGGIE KOHN passed the 500 assist mark for his career and became Conference USA's all time leader in that category, the Bulls prevailed 84-83, improving their all-time record against MAC opponents to 9-3.  On Saturday, USF made the trip to East Lansing to face the nationally-ranked Spartans of Michigan State.  The Bulls became the 34th straight non-conference victim of the Spartans in the Breslin Center, as they lost 65-56.  USF was able to shave a 16-point halftime deficit down to 7 in the second half, but nothing more could be done to stop the "Izzones."            

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (6-3, 0-0):  In a trip last Monday to Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Golden Eagles lost by 10 to the Hilltoppers with a score of 64-54.  Southern Miss dominated the early portion of the game and through halftime, but fell apart in the final 8 minutes of the game, scoring only 5 more points the rest of the way.  GEOFF BROWN pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds in the match-up.  Returning to Hattiesburg on Saturday, the Eagles put four men in double-figures in a 70-54 win over Arkansas-Little Rock.  CHARLES GAINES had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the team in both categories.   

TEXAS CHRISTIAN (4-4, 0-0):  The Horned Frogs traveled to Richmond, Virginia, last Saturday as Virginia Commonwealth took out TCU 91-78.  JUNIOR BLOUNT led the Frogs in scoring with 20 points, but it wasn't enough as the Rams connected on 10 of 12 free throws in the final 4 minutes of regulation to secure the win.  TCU also went through a stretch in the second half where they missed 11 straight field goal opportunities.  TCU next travels to Tulsa, Oklahoma to face the Hurricanes of Tulsa on Monday evening.         

TULANE (4-5, 0-0):  After a good 10 days off for semester exams, the Green Wave finally returned to the court on Friday to face Savannah State at Fogelman Arena in New Orleans.  Scoring the most points in a game in five years, Tulane breezed to a 103-47 win.  Freshman VYTAUTAS TATARUNAS led all players in scoring with 18 points, this in his second career game as a college player.  The Green Wave connected on a school record 13 3-point field goals in the contest and dropped the Tigers to 0-7 for the season.

PATRICK CRUSH'S FIVE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK

 
FIVE STARS:  Kentucky (6-2, 0-0) vs. Louisville (6-1, 0-0) (Saturday, 12:00 PM) 

FOUR STARS:  Illinois (8-0, 0-0) vs. Memphis (5-2, 0-0) (Saturday, 6:00 PM) 

THREE STARS:  Texas Christian (4-4, 0-0) vs. Tulsa (6-1, 0-0) (Monday, 8:05 PM) 

TWO STARS:  Louisiana State (7-1, 0-0) vs. Tulane (4-5, 0-0) (Saturday, 3:30 PM) 

ONE STAR:  Seton Hall (3-3, 0-0) vs. DePaul (5-2, 0-0) (Saturday, 2:00 PM)


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