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Midwest Hoops Report

   by ASA - 12/12/2006

Each week ASA will take a look at all of the college basketball happenings around the Midwest. We’ll delve into the Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA and the MAC to see what’s going on in our native Midwest.

Big Ten
• Illinois forward Brian Randle returned to the lineup Saturday against Illinois-Chicago and his presence was definitely needed. Randle, who missed the previous nine games, finished with nine points and nine rebounds in a closer-than-expected 71-66 win.
• Indiana forward D.J. White received little help from his teammates in a 59-54 loss to Kentucky. White led all scorers with 23 points to go along with a team-high nine boards but the rest of the team combined to shoot just 12-of-53. The Hoosiers will need better production from the supporting cast if they are to compete in the Big Ten.
• Michigan freshman Ekpe Udoh has quickly become the first player off the bench for the Wolverines. The 6-foot-10 forward is an active rebounder and shot blocker and is gradually improving on the offensive end. Udoh is averaging seven points, five rebounds and three blocks in just 21 minutes over his last four games.
• Michigan State has lost guards Raymar Morgan and Maurice Joseph until after Christmas with both suffering from stress fractures. Morgan and Joseph were the team’s second- and third-leading scorers before the injuries.
• Northwestern has gone 5-1 SU and 4-1 ATS in its last six games. Guard Craig Moore’s career-high 26 points against Western Michigan gave the Wildcats their fourth straight win.
• Greg Oden received the first start of what will, in all probability, be a short collegiate career in Ohio State’s 78-57 win over Cleveland State. He was predictably effective with 16 points on 8-of-8 shooting in just 22 minutes.
• Turnovers have been the biggest problem plaguing the Penn State basketball program. The Nittany Lions have turned the ball over 20 or more times in all three of their losses. They are averaging just over 13 turnovers in their six wins.
• Purdue forward Carl Landry earned Big Ten Player of the Week for a conference-record third straight week after averaging 22.5 points and 10 rebounds in wins over Loyola (Chicago) and Missouri.
• Wisconsin, if not the Big Ten, will play its biggest non-conference game of the season when it hosts No. 2 Pittsburgh Saturday. The Badgers have lost to the Panthers two straight years, including a second-round loss in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

Big 12
• Every Big 12 team is currently at least two games over .500 except for Colorado, which is 3-6. Oklahoma State leads the way with an 11-0 start followed by Missouri at 9-1 and Kansas at 8-2.
• Colorado’s 3-6 start could prompt head coach Ricardo Patton to turn to a full-court press. The Buffaloes used the press to erase a 16-point deficit in an eventual loss to Colorado State. Colorado only has two more games on the schedule in December and could use the extra practice time to refine the press.
• Iowa State starting center Ross Marsden could miss both Cyclone games this week with mononucleosis. Marsden has already missed three games and Iowa State has been outscored in the paint by a combined 54 points with him sidelined.
• Kansas State freshman Bill Walker will make his collegiate debut this Sunday against Kennesaw State. Walker was ranked as the sixth-best freshman of the 2006-07 recruiting class coming into the season and head coach Bob Huggins believes he will have an immediate impact.
• Missouri saw its nine-game winning streak to start the season come to a close with a 79-62 loss at Purdue. The game marked the Tigers’ first road game of the season and their toughest opposition to date by far.
• Oklahoma State had a player named the Big 12 Player of the Week for the second consecutive week with forward Mario Boggan following the lead of guard JamesOn Curry. Boggan averaged 22 points on 68 percent shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Boggan and Curry, who are combining for more than 39 points a game this year, have led the Cowboys to an 11-0 start and a No. 15 ranking in the latest poll.
• Freshman standout Kevin Durant received some much-needed support in Texas’ 76-75 overtime upset of LSU. Durant was held below 20 points for the first time this season, scoring only 10 points. Fellow freshman D.J. Augustin stepped up with a career-best 25 points along with five rebounds and five assists while sophomore A.J. Abrams added 18 points.
• Texas A&M’s stay at No. 6, the program’s highest-ever ranking, was short-lived as it lost to No. 9 LSU and top-ranked UCLA this week. The Aggies, who fell to No. 13 with the losses, have picked up only two wins over teams with winning records this season.
• Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight moved into second-place on college basketball’s all-time wins list with No. 877 against Centenary, passing Adolph Rupp in the process. Knight needs just three more wins to pass Dean Smith and move into the top spot. The Red Raiders have three more games remaining in 2006 with all three coming at home. They play Arkansas Saturday, Bucknell Dec. 23 and UNLV Dec. 28.

Conference USA
• East Carolina has lost three straight games (0-2 ATS) with poor shooting serving as the primary reason. The Pirates have shot 35 percent or less in all three of the losses and are shooting just 39 percent for the season.
• Houston’s two-week break between games couldn’t have come at a better time as head coach Tom Penders juggles an ever-changing roster. Senior guard Lanny Smith, who averaged 15 points a game last year, has returned from a foot injury and Texas transfer Dion Dowell becomes eligible Sunday. Forward Sam Anderson, who brought never-ending hustle and toughness to the court, has left the team for personal reasons.
• Memphis sophomore Kareem Cooper, who missed the first eight games due to suspension, returned Saturday against Ole Miss with nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks. The 6-foot-11, 290-pound forward provides a much-needed inside presence for the Tigers.
• UAB pulled off back-to-back overtime wins over Minnesota and DePaul. Head coach Mike Davis feels the team has found its identity – showing heart and playing strong defense – and that was the key in the wins.
• Central Florida improved to 6-0 on the season with an 87-65 win over Florida Atlantic. The win marked the first time since the Knights moved to Division I that they were undefeated through six games. They are winning by an average margin of nearly 26 points a game but have yet to play a team with a winning record.

Mid-American Conference
• Ball State hung tough with No. 15 Oklahoma State but continued troubles shooting the ball ultimately doomed the Cardinals. Ball State led 19-18 with eight minutes remaining in the first half but finished the game shooting just 37 percent, marking the ninth straight game the Cardinals have shot below 43 percent.
• Erik Marschall, Bowling Green’s second-leading scorer and primary inside presence, was sorely missed in BG’s 72-58 home loss to Arkansas State. The Falcons were outrebounded by 10 and allowed 30 points in the paint with Marschall out.
• Buffalo came into its home game against No. 2 Pittsburgh with aspirations of dealing the Panthers their first loss of the season. And the Bulls nearly did it. Buffalo led by seven at halftime and by 10 with 14 minutes left but managed only 14 points the rest of the way in losing 70-67.
• Kent State forward Haminn Quaintance, the Flashes’ leading rebounder and third-best scorer, missed Saturday’s game against IPFW but is expected back for Tuesday’s game at Duke.
• Ohio sophomore forward Jerome Tillman was named the MAC East Division Player of the Week after averaging 18 points and nine rebounds for the week. Tillman started the week with career-highs of 18 points and 13 boards against Louisville and concluded the week with an NABC Classic All-Tournament Team selection.
• Toledo is off to a 2-5 (3-3-1 ATS) start but the record is deceiving. The Rockets, according to the Sagarin college basketball rankings, has played the fifth-toughest schedule in the nation so far this season. Toledo’s opponents have a combined record of 43-19.

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