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Monday, Feb 20

   by Larry Ness - 02/20/2006

The East trailed the West by 21 points early in the third quarter of Sunday's All Star game but rallied to win. The East actually led 117-107 with just 3 1/2-minutes left in the game but found themselves in a 120-120 tie with 32 seconds remaining (typical NBA game).

Wade's putback with 16 seconds was the game-winner and while T-Mac's 36 points were a game-high, LeBron was the game's MVP (youngest-ever). The NBA resumes on Tuesday with a 12-game schedule.

My free play for Monday is on Oklahoma over Texas Tech at 9:00 ET. My 15* on Illinois led the way to a 2-1 CBB Sunday and I'm featuring another one of my coveted 15* plays as my LONE play on Monday's 12-game 'board'. Get it RIGHT NOW!

No. 13 Boston College was the only top-25 team to not play over the weekend and NINE of the 24 in action, fell. The highest ranked team to lose was No. 6 Texas, which lost at Oklahoma State on Sunday, 80-61.

The nation's No. 8 through No. 11 teams also lost, as Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Florida and West Va all came up losers. Of the five losing teams among the nation's top-11, only 11th ranked West Va lost to a ranked opponent, losing to No. 1 U Conn on Saturday (81-75).

Maybe the weekend's biggest loser was No. 24 Bucknell, ranked for the first time in school history. The Bison played at Northern Iowa on Saturday, in the most anticipated game of ESPN's BracketBuster extravaganza.

Bucknell blew chances to seal the game at the end of regulation and again near the end of the first overtime, before losing 65-61 in double-OT and ending its 12-game winning streak . However, the loss was not a league game, so Buknell remains one of the nation's few remaining teams still unbeaten in conference play.

Penn, of the Ivy League, was not as lucky. The Quakers had opened 7-0 in league play (winning by an average of 23.1 PPG) but lost at Columbia on Friday night, 59-57. The Lions won the game on a tip-in with just two seconds remaining. Penn won at Cornell 67-56 on Saturday but its loss on Friday leaves only FIVE Division I schools still unbeaten in conference play.

Last year only Pacific of the Big West (18-0) finished unbeaten in conference games, while two years ago, Austin Peay (16-0 in the OVC), Gonzaga (14-0 in the WCC) and ST Joe's (16-0 in the A-10) accomplished the feat. Joining Bucknell as schools still unbeaten in conference play this year, are Duke (13-0 in the ACC), George Washington (12-0 in the A-10), Gonzaga (11-0 in the WCC) and Memphis (10-0 in C-USA).

No. 2 Duke, which should be No.1 later today when the new poll comes out, beat Miami-Florida on Sunday, 92-71. JJ Redick scored 30 points (his school-record 13th 30-plus game this year) and became the school's all-time leading scorer. He's No. 2 in the nation this year in scoring, averaging 28.9 PPG, and is just 30 points behind the ACC's all-time career points leader, Dickie Hemric of Wake Forest.

No. 5 Gonzaga beat Loyola-Marymount on Saturday (79-70), as the nation's leading scorer, Adam Morrison (29.4 PPG), scored a career-high 44 points. It was Gonzaga's 13th straight win, tying them with No. 3 Memphis (which won at Tulane 105-65) for the second-longest current winning streak in the country. Memphis is 10-0 on the road this year, the only Division I school unbeaten in "true" road games.

The nation's longest current winning streak belongs to No. 7 George Washington. The Colonials won at Richmond on Saturday (64-51), for their 14th straight win.

Just THREE schools entered the weekend winless in conference play. Texas State of the Southland Conference ended a 12-game losing streak and picked up its first conference win of the year (now 1-11) by easily winning at home over Texas-San Antonio, 81-57. The news was not as good for South Florida, as the Bulls extended their school-record losing streak to 14 games and dropped to 0-12 in the Big East, when they lost at home to Rutgers, 65-51.

The Citadel, 0-13 in the Southern Conference, did not play over the weekend but hosts Furman tonight at 7:15 ET. The Bulldogs are nine-point underdogs with a total of 137. It's one of just 12 games on tonight's college 'board' and is surely far from the most interesting. Three games are on TV, the first two on ESPN and the final one on ESPN2.

No. 11 West Va (18-7) is at Syracuse (7:00 ET), where the Mountaineers are favored by one point with a total of 140. West Va won its first eight Big East games but is just 1-3 since. Syracuse opened 15-2 but then lost four straight games (three to top-10 opponents) and comes into this game 18-8 overall and 6-6 in the Big East.

No. 19 Oklahoma is 17-6 (8-4) and visits Texas Tech (14-12 / 6-6) at 9:00 ET. Oklahoma won in Norman 60-48 (Jan 21) in the first meeting this year but Tech is 12-3 at home this season. However, the Red Raiders are 0-5 vs ranked opponents this year, losing by an average of 21.4 PPG. Oklahoma is favored by four points with a total of 130.

No. 5 Gonzaga travels to Malibu tonight at 12:00 midnight ET to take on Pepperdine. The Bulldogs own a current 13-game winning streak (wins have come by an average margin of 16.7 PPG) and have won 20 straight games in the WCC. The Waves, who have lost eight straight to Gonzaga, will have to play without their leading scorer, freshman Michael Gerrity (14.8). Gonzaga is favored by 11 1/2 points with a total of 151 1/2.

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET. A feature story runs Saturday and Sunday.

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