The Weekly Sports Report

The "#1 Jinx" nearly claimed another victim last week. The top rated Connecticut Huskies barely survived against Rutgers at the RAC on Tuesday night, escaping with a 75-74 win. The Scarlet Knights held a 37-32 lead at the half, despite some awful free throw shooting. The Huskies turned things around in the 2nd half, mainly by doing a much better job on the boards.

UConn held a six point lead with only 2:20 to play, but some missed free throws enabled Rutgers to close the gap to one with 7 seconds remaining. The Huskies were inbounding the ball under the Knights basket but, instead of quickly fouling, the Knights allowed UConn to pass the ball twice and run the clock out.

Connecticut was led as usual by center Emeka Okafor (21 points, 16 rebounds, & 6 blocks), guard Ben Gordon (22 points & 3 assists) and freshman forward Charlie Villanueva (15 points & 12 rebounds). Senior forward Herve Lamizana scored 20 points for the Scarlet Knights, and junior guard Ricky Shields chipped in with 19. Connecticut shot 49.2% from the field while limiting Rutgers to 32.4%. However, the Knights shot 10-27 from 3 point range. UConn also held a huge rebounding edge, 53-40. Both teams struggled from the free throw line, with Connecticut going 13-27 including some big misses down the stretch while Rutgers was only slightly better at 16-26.

The Huskies may have been looking ahead to their non-conference match-up on Sunday with #5 Oklahoma. This one was no contest from the start as the Huskies routed the Sooners in Storrs, 86-59. Emeka Okafor totally dominated the game, just missing a "triple double." He scored 21 points, with 10 rebounds and 9 blocked shots.

The Huskies certainly impressed Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson. He said, "They may be as good as anyone we've played in ten years. Their team speed, until you see them up close and personal, you don't know how fast they are. They impose their transition game on you. Connecticut was just shoving it down our throats."

The win was the 10th straight for the Huskies who improved to 13-1. Oklahoma suffered their first defeat of the season and are now 10-1.


Games of the Week

Tuesday
East – In Big East play, #15 Pittsburgh remained undefeated with a 78-59 win over Virginia Tech. The Panthers raised their record to 15-0 in their first conference game of the season. They also extended their nation-leading home court winning streak to 35 games. Pitt was led by their two senior stars. Forward Jaron Brown scored 21 points and shooting guard Julius Page had 20. Freshman center Chris Taft contributed 17 points… Also in the Big East, Boston College defeated Georgetown 72-64… In a non-conference game, Villanova lost at home to Memphis 73-57. The Tigers were led by freshman forward Sean Banks and senior guard Antonio Burks, who each scored 22 points. Memphis' defense limited Villanova to 31% shooting from the field.

South – Second ranked Duke enjoyed an easy non-conference home win over Fairfield. Senior guard Chris Duhon led a balanced Blue Devil attack with 20 points as Duke waltzed, 99-58… In an Atlantic 10 contest, #9 St. Joseph's scored a nice road win over Richmond, 71-60. The Hawks were led as usual by All-American senior PG Jameer Nelson, who tallied 32 points. The win kept St. Joseph's undefeated at 12-0.

Midwest – The 21st ranked Wisconsin Badgers had no trouble with Indiana, routing the Hoosiers 79-45 in Madison. Junior forward Mike Wilkinson scored 20 points and added 10 rebounds for the Badgers.

Wednesday
East – Syracuse had a tougher time than expected, but still defeated St. John's 65-59 at the Carrier Dome. The 17th ranked Orangemen only led 32-28 at the half. However, they quickly extended their lead to 11 points in the first 6:30 of the 2nd half and held the Johnnies at bay the rest of the game. Sophomore PG Gerry McNamara led the scoring for Syracuse with 23 points and Hakim Warrick contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds. St. John's was paced by senior forward Grady Reynolds, who had a team-high 13 points and 13 rebounds. After their opening game loss to Charlotte, Syracuse has now won ten in a row.

South - #10 Louisville easily handled CUSA foe Southern Mississippi at home, 76-42. The Cardinals were led by junior forward Nate Daniels, who had 15 points. The Cardinals defense, 5th in the country in field goal percentage defense, held the Golden Eagles scoreless for a stretch of almost 13 minutes! Louisville improved to 10-1… Also in CUSA, Cincinnati overwhelmed Tulane, 71-44… In SEC action, Florida struggled at home before topping South Carolina, 65-62. Unbeaten but unranked Mississippi State defeated Mississippi 61-54; #20 Vanderbilt got by Auburn 59-53; and Tennessee toppled Georgia 89-65… In a non-conference match-up, Miami got a preview of life in the ACC as the Canes were routed by North Carolina 89-64 in Chapel Hill. The 12th ranked Tar Heels were led by sophomore Sean May's 23 points and 16 rebounds as they improved to 9-2. Miami was paced by sophomore guard Robert Hite's 27 points.

Midwest – In the Big 10, Iowa upended #24 Purdue, 71-61… In the Big East, Notre Dame outlasted West Virginia, 63-52… Iowa State edged Big 12 foe Missouri, 70-65… In the Atlantic 10, Dayton struggled past St. Bonaventure 76-72.

Southwest – In a CUSA contest, 23rd ranked Marquette notched a road victory over Houston, 65-52.

Thursday
West - #3 Arizona coasted to a 95-75 win over PAC 10 foe California in Tucson. Sophomore Hassan Adams led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points and 9 boards. The win was the 509th for coach Lute Olson at Arizona, tying him with Fred Enke for the most wins ever at the school… #4 Stanford needed a put back by junior Josh Childress to pull out a 63-62 road win at Arizona State… In the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga went on the road and topped Pepperdine 87-70.

Saturday
East - #17 Syracuse extended their winning streak to 11 games with an easy 96-73 romp over Boston College in the Carrier Dome. Sophomore PG Gerry McNamara hit 6 three point shots as he led the Orangemen with 26 points and also added 7 assists. Three other players reached double figures, with Hakim Warrick scoring 19, Billy Edelin 17, and Josh Pace 14. The victory was the 664th for coach Jim Boeheim, tying him with the legendary John Wooden for 18th on the all-time list… Also in the Big East, Chris Thomas scored 26 points to help Notre Dame score a road win over Villanova, 82-78. After a slow start, Thomas tallied 21 of his points in the 2nd half despite fouling out with 19 seconds remaining. Believe it or not, this was Notre Dame's first ever Big East win over the Wildcats!… Sophomore Joe Herber scored 15 points as West Virginia barely held off Gerogetown 62-58 in Morgantown… Seton Hall is starting to look like a contender in the Big East. The Pirates went into Madison Square Garden and overwhelmed St. John's, 71-54. Senior PG Andre Barrett led a balanced Seton Hall attack with 21 points. The Pirates' defense held the Johnnies to 33.9% shooting from the field. The only St. John's player in double figures was freshman Forward Lamont Hamilton, who had 14. The win was the 8th straight for the Pirates, now 11-2… Two teams coming off heartbreaking defeats against ranked teams met in Piscataway. The heartbreak continued for Providence as they were defeated by Rutgers, 65-64. Senior forward Herve Lamizana hit two 3 pointers in the final 10.5 seconds, sandwiched around two missed free throws by Providence's sophomore PG Donnie McGrath. Lamizana led the Scarlet Knights with 21 points and 8 rebounds. The only other Rutgers player in double figures was junior SG Ricky Shields with 14… In the Atlantic 10, #9 St. Joseph's had no trouble on the road defeating Duquesne 78-61. The Hawks' outstanding pair of guards led the way with Jameer Nelson scoring 21 and Delonte West 20.

South – In the ACC, #5 Wake Forest remained unbeaten at 11-0 with a 78-63 home win over Clemson. Freshman PG Chris Paul led the way for the Deamon Deacons with 21 points and soph center Eric Williams contributed 17. The Deamon Deacons extended their home winning streak to 24 games… SEC action saw #7 Kentucky dump #20 Vanderbilt 75-63 in the Rupp Arena. The Wildcats certainly exhibited balanced scoring, with 16 points each from Gerald Fitch, Kelenna Azubuike, and Erik Daniels. The Wildcats improved to 10-1. Vanderbilt suffered their first loss after opening the year with 12 consecutive wins, the best start in school history… #14 Florida recovered from some recent struggles with a 95-57 trouncing of Tennessee in Gainesville. Matt Walsh scored 20 points for the Gators, whose full court press helped account for 20 Tennessee turnovers… Elsewhere in the SEC, Mississippi State remained undefeated by topping Arkansas 80-62; South Carolina defeated Georgia 84-63; and Auburn routed Mississippi 80-53… In CUSA, #10 Louisville had no trouble on the road with South Florida, overwhelming the Bulls 85-40. The Cardinals have now won 11 consecutive games after losing their opener. Taquan Dean scored 16 points and Francicso Garcia added 15 to lead Louisville… Also in CUSA, Southern Mississippi upset Memphis 66-63 and UAB drubbed Houston 64-42… The most exciting game of the day in Dixie was the Big East contest between #15 Pittsburgh and Miami. The Panthers remained undefeated at 16-0 by pulling out an 84-80 win in double overtime. Miami freshman guard Guillermo Diaz hit an off-balance jumper with 3.9 seconds to play in regulation to give the Hurricanes a 64-62 lead. Pitt PG Carl Krauser then took the inbounds pass and drove the length of the court to hit the tying layup with less than a second remaining. Krauser came up huge in the 2nd overtime session, with a steal and two clutch free throws in the final minute. Krauser finished with 19 points, all but two in the 2nd half and overtimes. Senior forward Darius Rice played 48 minutes for Miami, and led the Canes with 22 points and 9 rebounds.

Midwest – #11 Cincinnati remained undefeated at 11-0 with an easy 90-65 home win over CUSA rival DePaul. Senior guard Tony Bobbitt paced the Bearcats with 19 points… Also in CUSA, #23 Marquette barely survived at home against St. Louis 61-59. Junior PG Travis Diener hit a baseline jumper with just 2.6 seconds to play for the win, as the Golden Eagles improved to 11-2. In the Big Ten, #24 Purdue struggled at Illinois before pulling out a 58-54 victory. Sophomore guard David Teague led the way for the Boilermakers with 15 points. The loss snapped the Illini's 23 game home winning streak… In the Big 12, Iowa State topped Nebraska 89-74 and Missouri defeated Texas A&M 82-77… In the Atlantic 10, Dayton hung on to beat Temple, 60-56.

Southwest - #18 Texas opened their Big 12 league schedule with a 79-57 win over Baylor. Brad Buckman had 16 points and 10 rebounds in helping the Longhorns improve to 9-2… Also in the Big 12, #22 Texas Tech ripped Oklahoma State, 83-62.

West – 4th ranked Stanford completed their Arizona road trip by traveling to Tucson to take on #3 Arizona and left town with a huge 82-72 win. The victory keeps the Cardinal unbeaten at 13-0. Five Stanford players finished in double figures, with junior forward Josh Childress leading the way with 19 points. Stanford coasted to the win, leading by 20 points with just over 4 minutes left before a late Arizona rally trimmed the lead to 10. Stanford has now defeated Arizona in Tucson 4 years in a row… Elsewhere in PAC 10 play, California upended Arizona State 74-62; Oregon State toppled Oregon 90-81; UCLA needed overtime to edge Washington 86-84; and Washington State topped USC 76-61… In the West Coast Conference, 16th ranked Gonzaga improved to 12-2 with a 74-60 road win at Loyola Marymount.

Sunday
East – In Atlantic 10 play, Xavier traveled to Kingston and came away with an 81-67 win over Rhode Island.

South – In the ACC, #2 Duke had no trouble going on the road as the Blue Devils crushed Virginia 93-71. Six players were in double figures for Duke, including leading scorer Shelden Williams, who tallied 21 points. Williams was a force on the glass as well, grabbing 12 rebounds. Duke SG J.J. Redick had 14 points for Duke, including 4 of 5 from 3 point range. He also went 2-2 from the line and has now made 50 consecutive free throws. That is a new ACC record. The previous mark of 48 was set by Jeff Lamp of Virginia during the 1979-80 season. Duke's win improves their record to 12-1... #12 North Carolina defeated #8 Georgia Tech 103-88 in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels' talented spohomore trio led the way to victory as PG Raymond Felton scored 25 points and handed out 9 assists, forward Sean May tallied 28 points, and SG Rashad McCants chipped in with 17. Sophomore PG Jarrett Jack led the Yellow Jackets with 22 points. North Carolina is now 10-2 while Georgia Tech's loss leaves them with a 12-2 mark… Also in the ACC, North Carolina State traveled to Tallahassee and came away with a 58-53 win.

Midwest – In the Big 10, Indiana got back on track with a narrow 59-57 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor… In the Missouri Valley Conference, Creighton won at home over Drake 78-67.

Monday
East - #13 Pittsburgh again barely avoided their first defeat of the season, prevailing over Notre Dame 74-71 at home. The Panthers, who were taken to double overtime by Miami on Saturday, overcame a 7 point 2nd half deficit to run their record to 17-0 and extend their nation's best home winning streak to 36 games. After erasing the Irish's lead, the Panthers opened up a nine point lead of their own at 63-54. However, Notre Dame refused to fold and rallied back, led by the hot shooting of their guard combo of junior Chris Thomas and sophomore Chris Quinn. The two hit 5 three point shots in the final 2:33, two by Thomas and three by Quinn, before the Panthers were able to finally put the game away. Thomas finished with a game-high 29 points and 9 assists while Quinn scored 16 points, all coming in the 2nd half. The Irish were only 3-8 from the free throw line, but shot a red hot 12-26 from 3 point land. Pitt was only 5-16 on their 3 point shots, but went to the free throw line 22 times and converted 11 times. The Panthers' balanced attack was led by Jaron Brown who scored 19 points. The other 4 starters were also in double figures. SG Julius Page tallied 18, all but three in the 2nd half. PG Carl Krauser had 15 and both PF Chevy Troutman and center Chris Taft scored 10. Taft also had a game-leading 9 rebounds… Also in the Big East, Providence came up with a big road win, defeating Seton Hall 63-60. The Pirates' loss snapped an 8-game winning streak and also their 13-game home winning streak. In the final 50 seconds, Providence's Tuukka Kotti and Sheiku Kabba both missed the front ends of 1and 1s to give Seton Hall an opportunity to tie the game. However, after Kotti's miss, the Hall's J.R. Morris missed a 3 pointer and after Kabba failed to put the game away, three different Pirates launched unsuccessful 3 point shots before time expired. Junior forward Ryan Gomes and senior center Marcus Douthit led the Friars with 14 points each. Seton Hall's leading scorer, senior PG Andre Barrett, also had 14 points.

Midwest - #17 Syracuse traveled to Big 12 country to take on the reeling Missouri Tigers. The Orangemen won their 12th straight, easily handling the troubled Tigers 82-68. Junior PF Hakim Warrick paced Syracuse with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Syracuse came into the game shooting only 63% from the free throw line, but converted 17 in a row during the game. Missouri, a team many thought had Top 10 potential, has now lost 5 of their last 7 games and is 6-6 overall. Ricky Paulding tallied a season-high 25 points for the Tigers.


Hoops News & Notes

- Yesterday, West Virginia dismissed junior guard Drew Schifino from the team for an unspecified rules violation. Schifino was the Mountaineers' leading scorer last year with a 20.1 ppg average.

- Syracuse's victory over Missouri last night was the 665th of Jim Boeheim's career and moved him ahead of John Wooden into 19th place on the all-time Division 1 victory list. All of Boeheim's wins have been with the Orangemen.

- The latest AP Top 10 is as follows (records through Sunday, January 11th):

1. Connecticut (13-1)
2. Duke (12-1)
3. Stanford (13-0)
4. Wake Forest (11-0)
5. Kentucky (10-1)
6. Saint Joseph's (13-0)
7. Arizona (10-2)
8. Louisville (11-1)
9. North Carolina (10-2)
10. Cincinnati (11-0)

Undefeated teams outside the Top 10 are #13 Pittsburgh (16-0), #20 Mississippi State (13-0), and #24 Creighton (12-0).

Football News & Notes

- The soap opera at Nebraska is finally over. After being rejected by a number of candidates, Huskers' A.D. Steve Pederson finally hired recently dismissed Oakland Raider Head Coach Bill Callahan to take the reins in Lincoln. Callahan reportedly agreed to a 6 year contract worth $1.5 million per year. He promised to bring an N.F.L. style passing attack to Nebraska. Change doesn't come often to Lincoln. Callahan is only the 4th coach at Nebraska since 1962, and the first from outside the "Nebraska family" since Bob Devaney moved to Lincoln from Wyoming in that year. Callahan's first move was to dismiss most of the remaining staff of former head coach Frank Solich, including former Defensive Coordinator and acting Head Coach Bo Pelini. Reportedly, many alumni were less than enamored with Pederson's choice of Callahan and both will feel a lot of heat if the Huskers falter out of the gate next season.

- LSU Head Coach Nick Saban announced on Saturday that he will remain in Baton Rouge. Saban had been rumored for several N.F.L. head coaching jobs, most recently the Chicago Bears. By winning the BCS Championship, Saban invoked a clause in his contract that makes him the highest paid college coach. He will earn $1.00 more than the man he defeated in the Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. Stoops reportedly makes $ 2.3 million per year.

- Florida extended the contract of head coach Ron Zook by two years, despite back-to-back 8-5 seasons. Will that keep him from looking over his shoulder for Steve Spurrier should the Gators get off to another slow start in September?

- A number of draft-eligible players declared their intentions during the week. Returning to school are:

Miami CB Antrel Rolle
Arizona St. QB Andrew Walter
Texas LB Derrick Johnson

Deciding to leave early are:

Purdue OT Kelly Butler
USC DE Kenechi Udeze
LSU WR Michael Clayton
Clemson WR Derrick Hamilton
Clemson DT Donnell Washington
Florida St. WR P.K. Sam
Oregon DT Igor Olshansky

- UCLA RB Tyler Ebell has announced that he'll be transferring. Ebell just completed his sophomore year.


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