By Cory Mccartney
January 21, 2008
James Gist, Bambale Osby
When Perfection Isn't Always A Good Thing
After North Carolina was knocked off by Maryland, we're down to just two undefeated teams -- Memphis (17-0) and Kansas (18-0). Of course, what everybody wants to know is which team has the better chance of finishing unbeaten. We here at the Fast Break are more concerned with the following question that's Seth Davis posed last week: Is finishing the regular season undefeated really a good thing? Just as the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots and the 2003-04 Saint Joseph's squad can attest, it will become a major headache with the questions coming after each win. Can the Tigers or Jayhawks do it? Memphis has won by an average of 22.6 points per game and has had only one game decided by less than 10 points. What it needs is battles, not cakewalks. Kansas may be the nation's best team but it still has to play Texas and Texas A&M. It will be a tough road for both teams.
Bearcats On The Comeback Trail
Mick Cronin is leading a resurrection on par with Phoenix, Lazarus -- and even Bob Vila -- in the Queen City. Cincinnati was basically left for dead after the administration wiped away the last remnants of the Bob Huggins era in passing over interim coach Andy Kennedy, and Cronin went 11-19 last season (2-14 in the Big East). It looked like it was going to be more of the same this season as the Bearcats were 4-7 on Dec. 23 after losing five straight. But a team full of first and second-year players is making strides. The 'Cats have gone 5-2 since that skid, with all five wins coming against teams with an RPI of 50 or higher, including Saturday's victory over No. 15 Pitt, in which Cincy withstood a late Panthers' rally by leaning on its defense -- including a key block by Rashad Bishop with two seconds left. It looks like UC, now 9-9 and 4-2 in the Big East, has learned how to win.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
A year ago, the Bulldogs were 2-5 in the SEC going into a clash with Ole Miss but Mississippi State is 4-0 in conference after a 66-56 win over Alabama. That victory was also the first game this season Jarvis Varnado, the nation's leading shot blocker, went without a swat.
North Carolina Tar Heels
For the fifth straight time since 1998, the No. 1 Tar Heels lost to an unranked team. This time it was Maryland that delivered the stunning blow 82-80 in Chapel Hill. Should we be surprised? The Heels were living on the edge, with two of their first three ACC games decided by a combined three points. But this was a Terps team that lost to Ohio and American.
Drake Bulldogs
As Elaine Benes would say: Got to love the Drake. The Bulldogs pushed their winning streak to 15 and improved to 7-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 79-73 win over Illinois State. Drake keeps winning without the leading scorer in the MVC, Josh Young, who has missed the last three games with a sprained ankle.
Arizona State Sun Devils
The Sun Devils are still in contention for their first Pac-10 title in 30 years, but they missed a big opportunity on Saturday. Arizona State couldn't seize sole possession of first place after losing to Stanford 67-52. It was the second-lowest output of the year for ASU, which was also outrebounded by 14.
Cleveland State Vikings
The Vikings were 10-21 last season and haven't had a winning campaign since 2000-01, but it looks like things may change. Cleveland State, which upset No. 12 Butler last Thursday and beat Valparaiso on Saturday, is now 14-5 and sits atop the Horizon League at 7-0.
"You try to get it out of your mind, but that's all you can really think about because you remember they ruined your summer. They ruined your season."
--Tennessee guard Chris Lofton after a 74-69 win over Ohio State on Saturday. A year ago, Buckeyes ended the Volunteers' NCAA tourney run in the regional semifinal in San Antonio.
"He's probably gotten to be a more cruel competitor, and I mean that as a compliment."
--Notre Dame coach Mike Brey on Georgetown's Roy Hibbert, who had 21 points and five assists and spearheaded a Hoyas defensive effort that limited the Irish to 32.8 percent shooting.
"I kept telling [Eric Gordon] and Jordan [Crawford] during timeouts that we're wearing red."
--Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson on the Hoosiers' 65-60 win at Minnesota Thursday in which they overcame a season-high 26 turnovers, seven by freshman Gordon, in winning their 11th straight. IU pushed that streak to 12 with Sunday's win over Penn State.
Dre SmithG - George Mason
And we thought Curt Hennig was Mr. Perfect. But that title belonged to Smith on Saturday night. The Patriots junior set an NCAA record, hitting 10 of 10 threes as he scored 34 points in a 96-75 win over James Madison.
Stephen CurryG - Davidson
It wasn't Smith-esque, but Curry was no slouch from long-distance either. Curry hit 8 of 14 three-pointers, including six in the first half, as he scored 37 points and had four steals in Davidson's 85-58 victory over Chattanooga on Saturday.
Matt CauseyG - Georgia Tech
The senior had just one double-digit scoring game all season with 11 points -- but he blew that away against Virginia Tech. Causey scored a career-high 30 points off the bench, including 18 in the second half, as the Yellow Jackets won 81-70.
With UNC Asheville taking on VMI, the nation's highest-scoring team it's most dangerous player, 7-foot-7, 360-pound center Kenny George was missing in action. The lumbering center played just one minute because his coach said he thought George needed to rest.
Florida joined Notre Dame as the only schools that have beaten Kentucky seven straight times as the Gators won 81-70 in overtime on Saturday in Gainesville.
25, 12
A pair of road losing streaks came to an end as Baylor snapped its 25-game Big 12 road skid in beating Nebraska 72-70, while TCU snapped a 12-game streak in beating Colorado State 70-58.

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