COLLEGE BASKETBALL : Duncan Starts Slowly, Then Flattens Utah

From Associated Press

Even on an off night, Wake Forest's Tim Duncan was good enough to make Utes Coach Rick Majerus think about going into another line of work.

Duncan, a 60% shooter coming in, missed seven of his first nine field-goal attempts, then made his last five to lead the No. 12 Demon Deacons past the No. 13 Utes, 60-56, at Winston-Salem, N.C.

"He takes it to a different dimension," Majerus said of the 6-foot-10 Duncan. "Like I told him after the game, he's a great kid, he's calling me sir, and I said, 'Hey, I want to be your agent.' He looked at me like I was crazy."

Duncan wound up with 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting as Wake Forest (6-1) won for the 15th time in its last 17 nonconference games. He also had 12 rebounds and four blocks.

Utah (6-2), which got 20 points from Keith Van Horn, fell to 6-2 while shooting a season-low 35%.

No. 5 Memphis 74, Sam Houston State 51--For the first time in a long time, perhaps since the first game of the season, Memphis Coach Larry Finch had some words of praise for his Tigers.

Despite being ranked fifth in the country and undefeated, the Tigers (6-0) have been victims of their coach's ire after most games. Finch took a different tone after the victory over Sam Houston State.

"We came out and did a lot of things well," Finch said. "I thought we played better team ball and moved it around better offensively. There were some times when we shot way too quick, but we will work on our patience."

Sam Houston State (2-6) was cold from the field, partly because of strong defense by the Tigers, particularly inside. Memphis blocked 10 shots in holding the Bearkats to 26% shooting (19 of 73).

Mingo Johnson scored a game-high 16 points, 13 in the first half, and had six assists for Memphis, which substituted freely in the second half after building leads of 20-plus points.

Reserve guard Jason Yarbrough came off the Bearkat bench to score 14, all in the second half.

No. 18 Georgia 95, Mercer 68--Terrell Bell, a 6-foot-10 center, scored 16 points and had a career-high 14 rebounds as the Bulldogs defeated the Bears (6-3) at Athens, Ga., for their fifth consecutive victory as they improved to 8-1.

"We finished this stretch of the season on a positive note," said Georgia Coach Tubby Smith, whose team earned a spot among the top 25 this week for the first time in five years.

Reggie Elliott led Mercer with 25 points.

No. 23 Virginia 80, Virginia Commonwealth 65--Norman Nolan scored a career-high 21 points and the Cavaliers (4-2) held the Rams (5-5) without a field goal for almost nine minutes of the second half while rallying for the victory at Charlottesville, Va.

Virginia, playing for the first time in 12 days, trailed, 57-56, with 11:15 left. It then held Virginia Commonwealth without a field goal for the next 8:53 and opened a 74-61 lead. The Rams missed eight of 13 free throws in the run.

OTHER GAMES

Pat Bradley stepped up to take the place of suspended top scorer Jesse Pate and scored 16 points to lead Arkansas (5-3) to a 73-46 victory over Southern Methodist (3-4) at Fayetteville, Ark. . . . Ryan Minor broke out of a shooting slump and scored 26 points as Oklahoma (5-3) beat Oral Roberts (3-4), 87-53, in the Sooners' first trip to Tulsa in 10 years. . . . Quinton Brooks scored a career-high 29 points and Ray Weathers added a career-high 18 as Michigan State (5-5) overcame a 10-point deficit to beat East Tennessee State (2-4), 63-57, at East Lansing, Mich. . . . Freshman Brian Williams scored 23 points, including the last seven of the game, as Alabama (6-0) overcame a 16-point deficit in the second half to beat Tulane (4-3), 80-79, at Tuscaloosa, Ala.

College Basketball Notes

The NCAA decided not to appeal a state district judge's decision that has allowed New Mexico freshman Kenny Thomas to play this season. The NCAA in August declared the 6-foot-9 Thomas ineligible, saying he was a half-credit short of the 13 core courses required of college freshmen for athletic eligibility. . . . Shaun Jackson, Wyoming's 6-foot-6 freshman forward from Santa Ana Mater Dei, has left the team, the school announced. Jackson had been suspended Dec. 8 by Coach Joby Wright for what Wright said was Jackson's problems with team interaction. . . . No. 25 Louisville will face Kentucky Saturday without academically ineligible forwards Jason Osborne and Alex Sanders and assistant coach Larry Gay, who has been temporarily suspended with pay, while the school investigates his relationship with Texas basketball agent Lance Jay Luchnick.

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