Afternoon State Sports Briefs: MU to face Duke in tourney semisWisconsin Sports
-- The Marquette men’s basketball team will play top-ranked Duke tonight in the semi-finals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City. They’re 1-1 against each other in recent years – but they haven’t met since 2007, when Kyle Singler scored 25 points to knock off the Golden Eagles by four.
KANSAS CITY - The Marquette men’s basketball team will play top-ranked Duke tonight in the semi-finals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City. They’re 1-1 against each other in recent years – but they haven’t met since 2007, when Kyle Singler scored 25 points to knock off the Golden Eagles by four.
Singler is now a senior – and he returns for tonight’s rematch as one of just many weapons in Mike Krzyzewski’s arsenal. Singler averages 14 points and six rebounds a game. Guard Nolan Smith averages 16 points, and his backcourt partner Kyrie Irving has just over 14 per contest. Seth Curry, a younger of Golden State Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry, averages 14 off the bench. Marquette senior Jimmy Butler says the Eagles go in with nothing to lose. He says Duke is a great, well-coached team – but if Marquette can show more toughness and play like an underdog, the Eagles can pull off the upset. ESPN2 will show tonight’s game starting at 6:30.
For the second week in a row, Wisconsin running back James White has been named the Big Ten’s football Freshman-of-the-Week. White ran for a season-high 181 yards with two touchdowns in the Badgers’ 20-point victory at Michigan. And he had two catches for 19 yards. White and sophomore Montee Ball became only the second pair in Wisconsin history to each run for 150 yards in the same game. Ball had 173 yards and four touchdowns against the Wolverines. The Badgers improved to 6-1 in the Big Ten and 10-1 overall. They’ll host Northwestern in their regular season finale next Saturday, possibly with a Rose Bowl berth on the line depending on how Michigan State and Ohio State do in their conference finales.
John Clay’s status remains uncertain for Saturday’s Wisconsin regular season finale against Northwestern in Madison. Coach Bret Bielema said today that the junior has pushed himself as hard as he can, as he gets over a sprained knee suffered against Purdue November sixth. The coach said they’ll get Clay involved at practice the next two days and see where he’s at. But for now, Montee Ball and freshman James White are the co-starters at the running back spot against the Wildcats. Clay is listed as a back-up – and if he’s available, Bielema says he’d like to use all three rushers. White and Ball became only the second pair of UW players to rush over 150 yards in the same game. That happened in last Saturday’s win over Michigan.
The Green Bay Packers are 7-3 as they look ahead to next Sunday’s contest at 8-2 Atlanta. The Packers could be without safeties Atari Bigby and Anthony Smith for their next game on Sunday at Atlanta. Bigby injured a hamstring yesterday at Minnesota, and Smith sprained an ankle. And coach Mike McCarthy said today those injuries would make it a challenge for either player to see action against the Falcons. The Packers might have to bring up Anthony Levine from their practice squad. That’s because they only have three healthy safeties at the moment – Nick Collins, Charlie Peprah, and back-up Jarrett Bush. McCarthy also said center Scott Wells is being monitored with the sprained arch he suffered last week. The coach said Wells is having his most consistent season on the Packer offensive line.
The Milwaukee Bucks are just 1-6 against teams in the NBA’s Western Conference. And they’ll return to their home group in the East this week. But whoever they play, coach Scott Skiles says the Bucks must execute better – especially in close games. They missed several key shots in the closing minutes of their one-point loss against Oklahoma City on Saturday night. Skiles says they can work the ball into the middle, and they’ve had their share of lay-ups – but they’ve got to make more of them. Milwaukee is last in the NBA with field-goal percentage of 41-point-one. And they’re 25th in three-point percentage at 31-point-seven. Skiles says a lot of shooting involves mental factors, although some involves technique. But it’s something the Bucks are working on, and Skiles hopes it gets better. Milwaukee is 5-8 overall. They’ll play at Cleveland on Wednesday night, at Detroit on Friday, and at home against Charlotte on Saturday night.
In hockey, the University of Wisconsin is still number-one in the women’s poll from U-S College Hockey On-line. The Badgers are 9-1 after sweeping a pair from Robert Morris at Pittsburgh last weekend. The top five spots in the women’s poll are unchanged from a week ago. Cornell and Minnesota-Duluth are still at two-and-three. In the men’s poll, Wisconsin dropped one spot to 16th after losing four straight. They fell to top-ranked Duluth 6-5 and 3-2 at home last weekend, both in overtime. Wisconsin is now 6-6-2 overall and play Michigan and Michigan State in the College Hockey Showcase this weekend.
In Division-Three, the Saint Norbert men remain third in the USCHO.com poll. Norwich is still first. Milwaukee Engineering rose two spots to 13th, and UW-Stout made its first appearance at number-15. Stevens Point, Superior, Lawrence, and River Falls all received votes.