AROUND THE CITY
Had their chances
Temple did some nice things against Kansas at Allen Field House. The Owls simply did not do enough of them nor were they consistent enough. Thus, a 71-59 loss to the Jayhawks.
Nobody was making excuses, but the Owls (5-4) were at a competitive disadvantage after a very late arrival due to Friday's weather. Their 8 p.m. flight to Kansas City left Philadelphia at 10 p.m. They arrived at their hotel at 1:30 a.m. Central. The game began 12 hours later.
Put these two teams on a neutral court with no travel issues and you probably get a better idea of the relative strengths.
Travel got no better Saturday night. The team was flying to Los Angeles through Denver for a game tonight with Long Beach State. They sat for 2 hours on the first plane in Kansas City, after another plane went off the runway in Denver, injuring dozens and closing the airport. They held their Denver connection, made it to LA and arrived at their hotel at 1:45 a.m. Pacific.
As for the game
Lavoy Allen did not start because of a school-related issue. The Owls looked lost without him, fell behind and, despite repeated runs, never caught up.
Dionte Christmas had 21 points, but probably forced too many shots. The Owls got very little inside despite KU's overplay defense.
Temple's defense looked very slow and often did not get back to protect its basket as Kansas (8-2) just kept running them. KU shot 52.7 percent.
La Salle needed to play Cornell a few weeks ago before point guard Louis Dale, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, returned from a hamstring injury. Dale, who had played just one game and 10 minutes this season, was back for the Explorers' visit to Ithaca, N.Y.
La Salle actually led by 14 early in the second half, but could not hold it and lost, 79-70. That is a 23-point turnaround.
Defending Ivy champ Cornell (5-5) still is not at full strength as the third part of its Big Three, Adam Gore, remains out as he recovers from an ACL injury
La Salle (5-5) also was missing a key part as big man Vernon Goodridge did not play due to bruised ribs suffered in the previous game against Rider. He certainly would have helped against Cornell's 7-foot Jeff Foote, who went off for 25 points.
The Explorers ran into that Friday weather as well, taking 7 1/2 hours to get to Ithaca by bus.
Drexel had been losing close games because it could not make shots. The Dragons were a bit better at Bucknell as they got career highs from Scott Rodgers (24) and Gerald Colds (21).
But Bucknell doubled its first-half point total in the second half and won, 81-75. Drexel (2-5) led by 11 points early in the second half, but the Bison shot 59 percent in the second. Bucknell (3-6) shot 48 percent overall, 50 percent from the arc and attempted 39 free throws, a combination too much for Drexel even when it scores 75 points.
Dragons coach Bruiser Flint was so happy with the situation that he got two technicals and was ejected in the final seconds.
Yesterday, Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager issued a one-game suspension to Flint for a violation of the conference's standards of sportsmanship.
He will sit out this afternoon's game at Memphis.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Connecticut-Gonzaga looked like a regional final. Both teams overcame double-digit deficits. There were critical shots, bonehead plays and very little to separate two teams that could be in the Final Four. UConn needed 45 minutes to win it. The Zags shot 50 percent against one of the best defensive teams in America. UConn, with its power game, got to the foul line 15 more times.
Arizona State looked like it had lost to BYU when a wild over-the-head tap went in at the buzzer for the Cougars. The officials looked at the replay, which showed the shot was off a millisecond after the clock went to zeros and the red light went on.
Old friends and a legend
Tubby Smith succeeded Rick Pitino at Kentucky and immediately won the 1998 national championship. That the two faced off in Arizona in the Stadium Shootout Doubleheader with different schools - Smith with Minnesota, Pitino with Louisville - might have even made those UK fans consider that they might have had it pretty good with those two.
Muhammad Ali, who has a home in Arizona and is a Louisville native, was courtside for the game.
How good was Duke?
Duke played the game as well as it can be played in the first half against Xavier. Unbeaten "X" looked overwhelmed from the start. Duke shot 61.8 percent and 8-for-15 from the arc in the first 20 minutes. "X" never adjusted to the overplay defense, got bullied and never recovered.
Duke remains the best front-running program in America. Coach K's teams are rarely content with a lead. They want bigger leads.
There are two tricks to beating Duke - use their defensive aggressiveness against them and punch back. Xavier did neither and got blown out.
Best individual performance
Kentucky's Jodie Meeks had 46 against Appalachian State, the best scoring day by a Wildcat since Dan Issel had 47 in 1970. He had 24 points in the first half, three more than App. State.
Hanging at hoops
Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant were hanging at the OU-VCU game.
Purdue got an early blackjack against Davidson and never looked back. They really did lead 21-0 on their way to a 76-58 win.
Everybody in Indiana, including defensive pest Chris Kramer, guarded Stephen Curry. Shooting just 5-for-26, Curry ended with 13 points.
The longest winning streak in America belongs to Ohio State. Going back to last season's run to the NIT championship, the Buckeyes have won 13 straight.
DICK JERARDI'S TOP 15
1. North Carolina (11-0): People are already talking unbeaten season. That is a bit much, but nobody has been close yet. Beat Valparaiso in Chicago, 85-63.
2. Connecticut (10-0): Over-came an 11-point deficit with 12 minutes left at Seattle's Key Arena and beat Gonzaga, 88-83, in OT.
3. Pittsburgh (12-0): Won 56-48 yesterday af Florida State, their first road game.
4. Oklahoma (11-0): Beat VCU, 87-70, in the Jeff Capel game. As part of his contract at VCU, his next school had to play a home-and-home with his former school, if he left. Thus, OU-VCU.
5. Duke (10-1): Played a perfect first half against Xavier at the Meadowlands and won, 82-64, a deceivingly close score. It was 18-1 and then 55-24 at the half.
6. Wake Forest (10-0): More young talent than any team in the ACC. This is the team the late Skip Prosser recruited and they are making him proud.
7. Georgetown (8-1): Played its worst game of the season in 69-58 win over game Mount St. Mary's.
8. Gonzaga (8-2): Shot 50 percent against one of the better defensive teams in America. Just ran out of players at the end due to foulouts.
9. Minnesota (10-0): Tubby Smith beat his old friend Rick Pitino and his team got a signature win, 70-64, over Louisville in the Stadium Shootout Doubleheader in Glendale, Ariz.
10. Louisville (7-2): Travel nightmare after beating Ole Miss in Cincinnati Thursday night. The Cardinals are much better than their record and will eventually show it.
11. Ohio State (8-0): Buckeyes' defense has been among the best in the country. Beat a tough Iona team, 71-53.
12. Butler (9-1): Bulldogs lost all those terrific players and are doing it again. Only loss was by three to Ohio State. Beat Florida Gulf Coast, 73-53.
13. Baylor (9-1): Came from nine points down in the second half to beat UT Arlington, 79-76. Only loss to Wake.
14. Arizona State (9-1): Potential game-winner by BYU waved off after it was initially ruled good and ASU won, 76-75, giving Cougars their first loss.
15. Clemson (12-0): Nice win at Miami, 91-72.