Sunday, February 22, 2009
Sunday's Best: Villanova, Illinois, Xavier, Clemson
The Syracuse Orangemen were looking to avenge an earlier 102-85 loss at Villanova and reclaim their right to an NCAA bid, but, at the same time, the Wildcats were seeking to win for the 8th time in their last 9 games. The Villanove win left the Syracuse post-season plans largely in limbo.
The Wildcats led most of the first half and into the second, when Syracuse went on a 14-2 run to grab a one-point lead, but Villanova went on an 11-0 run midway through the second half to regain the edge, 68-59.
The Orange were feeling comfortable on their home floor, however, getting back ot within 3 points with under 6 minutes to play, but the Wildcats quickly rebuilt a 9-point lead. Undeterred, the Orange cut the lead to 2 points with 15.8 seconds left but misfired on four straight three-point tries after Reggie Redding made one of two free throws.
Syracuse hasn't beaten a ranked opponent since downing then-#12 Notre Dame on January 17, though they had previously beaten Florida, Kansas and Memphis. The loss leaves syracuse at 7-7 in the Big East and 19-8 overall, but they still need to prove themselves either in their season finale at Marquette on March 7 or in the Big East tournament.
Illinois 70 Ohio St. 68
The Buckeyes are another team insecure in their tournament future as they sought to upend the visiting Fighting Illini, but Illinois proved they were better than an earlier 49-67 home loss to Ohio State, as sophomore forward Mike Davis led the scoring with 20 points on 11-14 shooting while taking down 8 rebounds.
Illinois improved to 22-6 overall and 10-5 in the conference, trailing 10-3 Michigan St. and 10-4 Purdue. Ohio State drops to 7-7 in the Big 10 and 17-8 overall. The Buckeyes have lost three straight.
Clemson 81 Georgia Tech 73
Trevor Booker scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and K.C. Rivers added 19 as the Clemson Tigers improved to 22-4 and 8-4 in the ACC. They are tied with Florida State at 8-4, behind 10-3 North Carolina in the ACC standings. The Tigers will be joined by either Duke or Wake Forest (both 7-4) pending the outcome of the Duke-Wake Forest game tonight at Durham.
Xavier 71 George Washington 53
The Musketeers easily dispatched with another Atlantic-10 opponent, retaking the conference lead at 10-3 after the Dayton Flyers (9-3) were upended Saturday by St. Louis. Xavier had five players in double figures to end a stretch in which they lost three of four.
Their work still not finished, Xavier heads to St. Joseph's on Feb. 26, has a rematch with Dayton on March 5 and closes out at Richmond on March 7.