COLLEGE BASKETBALL THE TOP 25 : No. 3 (for Now) North Carolina Beats No. 6 Florida State
North Carolina appears ready to end the regular season as the Atlantic Coast Conference champion and the top-ranked team in the nation.
The No. 3-ranked Tar Heels clinched at least a share of the regular-season ACC title and positioned themselves to claim the No. 1 ranking with an 86-76 victory over No. 6 Florida State on Saturday at Tallahassee, Fla.
“To win here in this environment is just outstanding,” North Carolina Coach Dean Smith said.
Because No. 1 Indiana and No. 2 Kentucky lost during the week, North Carolina probably will become the sixth team to be ranked No. 1 this season. The Tar Heels haven’t been No. 1 since the second week of the 1987-88 season.
Brian Reese scored 18 of his game-high 25 points during the second half--including six in a row to key a 15-2 late run--to lead the Tar Heels.
Reese made 11 of 18 shots and the Tar Heels, 24-3 overall and 12-2 in the ACC, shot 60% during the second half to hand the Seminoles (21-8, 11-4) their second consecutive loss.
Douglas Edwards led Florida State with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
No. 1 Indiana 86, Minnesota 75--Not even government intervention could help the Gophers against the Hoosiers in a Big Ten game at Minneapolis.
After Minnesota lost to Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., on Jan. 27, Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson wrote to Big Ten supervisor of officials Rich Falk, claiming the referees had “a deliberate plan to simply take the game away from Minnesota.”
The crew that worked Saturday’s game apparently wasn’t influenced. Minnesota was called for 25 fouls, Indiana for 18.
After the Hoosiers improved to 25-3 overall and 14-1 in the conference, Knight said: “I want to start off by thanking the governor of Minnesota for the hospitality. I appreciate the officiating that he arranged for today’s game. I hope he’s satisfied with it.”
Minnesota (15-9, 7-8) faced a 26-4 Hoosier run that began shortly before halftime. Indiana opened the second half by making 10 of 13 shots.
Indiana trailed most of the first half until Greg Graham, who had 11 of his 19 points during the decisive run, scored the final five points of the first half to tie the score, 39-39.
Matt Nover and Damon Bailey finished with 17 points each as Indiana rebounded from Tuesday’s overtime loss at Ohio State.
Minnesota’s Voshen Lenard had 22 points before an ankle injury forced him out with 1:14 to play.
No. 2 Kentucky 80, Auburn 70--Wesley Person’s 25-footer rimmed out of the basket as time expired, allowing the Wildcats (21-3, 11-3) to hold on for a Southeastern Conference victory over the Tigers (13-10, 6-8) at Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky’s Jamal Mashburn, who announced Thursday that he will turn pro, was given a postgame tribute in his final regular-season game. He finished with 22 points.
Person had 24 points and eight rebounds.
No. 7 Kansas 72, Colorado 68--In a matchup at Lawrence, Kan., between the Big Eight’s best and worst teams, it was hard to tell which was which.
The Jayhawks (22-5, 9-3) had lost three of their previous six games but avoided what would have been consecutive defeats for the first time since November of 1990.
Steve Woodberry came off the bench to scored 18 points for Kansas, which has won 18 of its last 20 against Colorado, including 10 in a row at home.
Donnie Boyce scored 16 of his career-high 30 points in the first 12 minutes of the second half as the Buffaloes (10-14, 2-10) rallied from a five-point halftime deficit.
No. 8 Vanderbilt 80, Mississippi State 39--The Commodores made 10 second-half three-pointers and shook off a sluggish start to beat the Bulldogs at Starkville, Miss., and clinch a bye in the first round of the SEC tournament in two weeks.
One year after struggling to a 15-15 record, Vanderbilt (23-4, 12-2) is one victory short of matching its best victory total.
Mississippi State fell to 12-14, 4-10.
Alabama Birmingham 67, No. 10 Cincinnati 60--Robert Shannon scored 29 points and the Blazers rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit in a Great Midwest Conference game at Birmingham, Ala.
It was Cincinnati’s second loss of the week. The Bearcats lost to Arizona, 70-60, last Sunday.
On Jan. 23, Cincinnati beat Birmingham, 40-38, when Nick Van Exel made a last-second three-pointer.
Van Exel did his best to beat the Blazers again, scoring a season-high 33 points. But no one else on his team scored in double figures.
Shannon led the Blazers (16-12, 4-5) down the stretch, scoring nine points in the last three minutes, including a three-point play that put Birmingham ahead to stay.
No. 11 Utah 89, No. 23 Brigham Young 83--Phil Dixon scored a career-high 28 points before 15,755 at Salt Lake City and the Utes took sole possession of first place in the Western Athletic Conference.
Josh Grant added 18 points for Utah (22-3, 15-1). Gary Trost led BYU (21-6, 14-2) with 26 points.
Trailing by four points at intermission, the Cougars cut the deficit to 42-41 five minutes into the second half on three consecutive buckets by 6-foot-10 center Trost.
It was the closest the Cougars would get. Utah countered with a 13-5 run capped by a three-pointer by Dixon. Another three-pointer, by Tony Block, and Grant’s baseline jumper and two foul shots pushed the Utes’ advantage to 66-54 with 8:48 to play.
No. 13 Nevada Las Vegas 94, Utah State 86--J.R. Rider scored 36 points to lead the Rebels (19-4, 12-3) over the Aggies in a Big West game at Logan, Utah. Rider has scored 80 points in his last two games.
Junsie Cotten led Utah State (10-15, 7-10) with 20 points.
No. 14 Seton Hall 82, Connecticut 74--In a Big East game at Hartford, Conn., the Pirates came from behind to win for the seventh time this season.
Terry Dehere, who had two points at halftime, keyed a late 19-0 run for Seton Hall (22-6, 12-4). Connecticut (15-9, 9-7) had won six in a row.
No. 12 Wake Forest 58, No. 22 Virginia 56--Rodney Rogers scored 24 points and made a three-pointer down the stretch at Winston-Salem, N.C., as the Demon Deacons avoided their third consecutive loss.
The victory moved Wake Forest (18-6, 9-5) into a tie with Duke for third place in the ACC. Virginia (16-8, 8-7) lost three in a row for the first time this season.
No. 15 Arkansas 85, Mississippi 63--Scotty Thurman, who had 15 points, sparked an 11-0 run early in the second half as the Razorbacks won at Oxford, Miss.
The come-from-behind victory gave Arkansas (18-6, 9-5) a one-game lead in the SEC West with two games to play. Ole Miss fell to 9-15, 4-10.
Louisville 94, No. 16 Tulane 67--Troy Smith scored a career-high 21 points on 10-of-10 shooting at Louisville, Ky., as the Cardinals (16-8, 10-1) clinched at least a tie with the Green Wave (20-6, 8-2) for the regular-season Metro Conference championship.
No. 18 Iowa 66, Michigan State 64--Wade Lookingbill’s 15-foot shot with three seconds to play lifted the Hawkeyes (19-6, 8-5) to a Big Ten victory at Iowa City.
Acie Earl led Iowa with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots, and James Winters added 15 points.
Shawn Respert scored 16 for Michigan State (14-9, 6-8).
No. 19 New Orleans 71, South Alabama 62--Reni Mason had 19 points and Ervin Johnson 18 as the Privateers (23-2, 17-0) defeated the Jaguars in a Sun Belt Conference game at Mobile, Ala.
South Alabama (13-12, 8-9) led at halftime, 34-31.
Memphis State 68, No. 20 Marquette 63--The Tigers got 26 points from Billy Smith and held the Warriors to one field goal in the final 6 1/2 minutes for a Great Midwest Conference victory at Memphis, Tenn.
The victory gave Memphis State (18-9, 6-2) sole possession of second place in the conference. Marquette (19-6, 5-4) is in third place.
West Virginia 79, No. 21 Massachusetts 54--Pervires Greene scored 25 points and the Mountaineers (14-10, 5-7) went on a 32-11 run over the first 12 minutes of the second half to upset the Minutemen (18-6, 9-3) in an Atlantic 10 game at Morgantown, W.Va.
No. 24 Xavier of Ohio 93, Detroit Mercy 74--Coach Pete Gillen credited the defense for the Musketeers’ Midwestern Collegiate Conference victory the Titans at Cincinnati.
Xavier (23-1, 11-1) concentrated on Detroit’s leading scorer, Tony Tolbert, who had been averaging 21.9 points and scored 30 points in Xavier’s 97-90 overtime loss Jan. 9 at Detroit. This time, he scored five points. Detroit is now 14-10, 6-6.