Thursday, January 20, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 77

Cougar Comics Online

UH Men's Basketball

UH Football

Player Profile: Shutna Hart

About the Cougar

Conference races heating up

Alford and Knight meet again; Cincinnati holding on at No. 1

Jake McKim
NCAA/Top 25 Notebook

The national scene in men's college basketball is beginning to heat up with the start of conference play.

Conference matchups are, by nature, more competitive, and powerhouse divisions such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten, the Pac-10 and Conference USA are even moreso because they feature some of the nation's elite teams.

File Photo

Iowa head coach Steve Alford faced former coach Bobby Knight and Indiana on Tuesday but was unable to come away with victory against his alma mater. The two men have not spoken since Alford accepted the Hawkeye head coaching job last year.

Showdowns like Duke-North Carolina in the ACC, Cincinatti-DePaul in Conference USA and Stanford-Arizona in the PAC-10 are surefire, big-time matchups year-in, year-out that promise college basketball fans exciting games each season.

Duke and UNC face off in their usual monumental battle Feb. 3 in Chapel Hill, N.C. 

This week's best interconference showdown takes place in the Big East and features two of the nation's elite teams in Connecticut and Syracuse. Look for a hard-fought, leave-everything-on-the-court fight between these two very proud teams. 

No. 6 Syracuse is undefeated after 14 games while No. 8 UConn is 12-3 including a win over UH.

The rankings

16-1 Cincinnati is still resting comfortably at the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press poll after receiving 30 out of 31 first-place votes with 15-2 Arizona, who received one first-place vote, right behind at No. 2.

Stanford, Auburn and Duke, which seemingly improves with each passing game, make up the rest of the top five. Syracuse, Kansas and UConn are 6, 7 and 8, respectively, with Florida and Michigan State rounding out the top 10.

Other notables include No. 14 Texas, which moved up one spot in this week's poll, North Carolina, which suffered the biggest drop in standings from No. 13 to No. 21 and No. 23 DePaul, which fell two spots after narrowly defeating UH at Hofheinz Pavilion.

Knight vs. Alford

Steve Alford was one of the greatest players ever to play basketball for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

Tuesday he returned as coach of Iowa in an attempt to beat his alma mater and former coach. However, Indiana was simply too good and the 11th-ranked team defeated Iowa 74-71. 

The interesting sidenote to the game was the fact that the two hadn't spoken to each other in more than a year and most people are under the impression that Knight and Alford have now become bitter rivals after Alford took over as coach at Iowa.

"If Alford wants to sit down and talk to me instead of holding press conferences about a lot of bull, I'll be glad to sit down and talk to him and explain things to him a little bit," the obviously tired-of-the-talk Knight said in the postgame press conference.

Alford chose to extend the olive branch to Knight by saying, "Everything he does he does with class." 

Alford's explanation for why the two haven't been able to patch things up is that they simply "hadn't had a chance to talk." 

Iowa and Alford will have their chance for a rematch next season when Indiana and Knight travel to Iowa.

Game of the Week

There are a few games this week that should be excellent contests including Texas at Oklahoma St. and Michigan St. at Ohio St., but the one to watch (besides the aforementioned UConn-Syracuse matchup) is No. 1 Cincinatti at unranked Marquette Sunday.

These two Conference USA foes are both playing extremely well and, because it's a home game for Marquette, the Golden Eagles should have an excellent shot at winning. If Marquette can find a way to shut down Cincinnati center Kenyon Martin, an upset is not far-fetched.

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