By Cory Mccartney
January 07, 2008
Malcolm Grant; Ronald Ramon
Can Dixon Salvage Injured Panthers?
Mike Cook is gone for the year. LeVance Fields is out 8-11 weeks. Jamie Dixon is down to seven scholarship players, and while he'll undoubtedly keep Pitt battling, can he really keep this injury-riddled team competitive in the Big East? It missed a golden opportunity in Sunday's 64-63 loss to Villanova. Maybe it was fatigue (six Pitt players went at least 23 minutes) or the fact that they're down to three guards (one of which, Ronald Ramon, [above] is battling injuries) but the Panthers were done in by 22 turnovers, including one with 10 seconds to go. Big East play is not the place to find a team's identity but Dixon has to discover new-look Pitt's in a hurry.
The Badgers' Inside Story
A year ago, Brian Butch was taking advantage of open looks outside supplied by Alando Tucker's presence -- but with team's defending him tighter on the perimeter he's going inside and supplying Wisconsin with a weapon more befitting of his 6-foot-11 frame. After missing three three-pointers in the first 12 minutes Saturday vs. Iowa, Butch went inside, scoring 22 points and snagging seven rebounds as the Badgers won 64-51. Butch was 7-for-12 shooting vs. the Hawkeyes, marking the third time in four games he's shot better than 50 percent.
Xavier In The Comfort Zone
It appears Xavier has solved that little zone issue that caused so much trouble against Arizona State. After the Sun Devils hounded the Musketeers to the tune of 30.6 percent shooting in ASU's 77-55 win on Dec. 15, Xavier has feasted on teams trying to follow the same script. The Musketeers blasted Virginia 108-70 Jan. 3, tying a school record with 16 three-pointers and Saturday against Auburn, they again hit 16 treys and led by as many as 33 in an 80-57 victory.
Feeling Minnesota
Even in losses, Minnesota is showing it's a far different club with Tubby Smith at the helm. A year ago, Michigan State beat the Golden Gophers by 24 at the Breslin Center, but Saturday Minnesota held its own against the then No. 6 Spartans in a 65-59 defeat in which the Gophers were within one in the final minutes. There were miscues, like the 13 turnovers MSU turned into 17 fast-break points, but a close loss against the Big Ten favorite is a step forward for a program that had just one road win last season.
Syracuse Orange
OK, what did Syracuse do with the real Jim Boeheim? The Orange ditched their trademark zone defense against South Florida, switching to man-to-man and went on a 12-3 run and held the Bulls without a field goal for 5 1/2 minutes in winning their sixth straight.
Marquette Golden Eagles
Tom Crean's crew may have been expecting the typically physical man-to-man defense from Bob Huggins' West Virginia team, but instead seemed bewildered with WVU playing a 1-3-1 zone, turning the ball over 14 times in a 79-64 loss Sunday.
Vanderbilt Commodores
The Commodores' inside-outside combination of swingman Shan Foster and center A.J. Ogilvy is fueling the best start in school history. Foster had 32 points and Ogilvy added 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Commodores beat UMass to improve to 15-0.
Kentucky Wildcats
You think Billy Gillispie is rethinking that move to the Bluegrass State? After Saturday's loss to Louisville, Kentucky is 6-7 and 226th in the RPI. Meanwhile, his former club, Texas A&M, is 13-1 following a 23-point win over LSU and is 20th in the RPI.
Washington State Cougars
It may have been closer than you'd expect from the nation's fourth-ranked team, but give this to Washington State, the Apple State is unquestionably Cougars territory. Wazzu edged Washington 56-52 Saturday, for its sixth straight win in the series to stay unbeaten at 13-0.
Southern Illinois
The Salukis may have been defined by defense in recent seasons, but this year it's anything but dominant. Southern Illinois (6-8), which is fifth in the MVC in points allowed, has allowed a player to score at least 20 points nine times after allowing just three players to reach that number last season.
"You see, they ask a question and you don't answer it, and they ask another and you don't answer it, either. You're going to be a good coach. Yes, sir."
--Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight said to his 21-month-old grandson, Will, whom he held in the news conference after the Red Raiders gave Knight his 899th career win in beating UTEP 75-68.
"Kevin Love played like a man today. Nineteen and 14."
--Bruins coach Ben Howland on his freshman center, who scored 13 of his points in the first half as UCLA dumped Cal 70-58. It was Love's seventh double-double of the season.
"Adrenaline just starts running through your body and makes you just want to go at them."
--Kansas forward Darrell Arthur on the Jayhawks' response to an 11-point run by Boston College during the KU's 85-60 victory, which improved Kansas to 14-0 on the year.
Wayne EllingtonG - North Carolina
You can call him "Rain" or "The Duke." But Roy Williams may just want to call him the reason his Tar Heels are still perfect. Ellington scored a career-high 36 points, including a trey with 0.4 left as North Carolina edged Clemson 90-88.
D.J. AugustinPG - Texas
Maybe Rick Barnes should keep scolding D.J. The Texas coach jumped on his point guard for sloppy play in the Longhorns' last three games, and Augustin responded with 30 points and added four assists as Texas beat Saint Mary's.
Malik HairstonG - Oregon
Behind Hairston, the Ducks displayed the form that propelled them to the Pac-10 tourney title last season. The junior scored 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting and was 3-of-5 beyond the arc as Oregon dumped then No. 21 Arizona in Tucson.
Stanford shot 27 percent in Saturday's 52-46 win over USC. It was the worst shooting effort by the Cardinal since they hit 26 percent of their shots in a 62-49 win over UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 20, 1999.
Memphis set a school record with its 40th-consecutive home win Saturday vs. Pepperdine. The Tigers haven't lost at FedEx Forum since a 69-58 defeat against Texas on Jan. 2, 2006.
Duke knocked off Cornell 81-67 Saturday, giving Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski his 786th career win, tying Lefty Driesell for sixth on the Division I all-time wins list.

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