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Jeff Eisenberg

Breakfast buffet: Memphis wins bubble battle with UAB

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Pull up a chair and sit down at the breakfast buffet, a daily assortment of all the freshest newsworthy college hoops stories on the net. To make a submission, contact me via email or twitter.

• If UAB can't beat Memphis at home this season, will the Blazers ever end a now nine-game losing streak to the Tigers? Memphis escaped with a 70-65 victory in Birmingham on Wednesday night, securing second place in Conference USA, reviving its NCAA tournament hopes and likely extinguishing UAB's flickering dreams of an at-large bid.

• What does Texas A&M have to do to get us to pay attention? Make the finals of the Big 12 tournament? Advance to the Sweet 16? The co-favorites for the title of best team nobody is talking about (along with Baylor) pounded the same Oklahoma State team that beat Kansas on Saturday, improving to 10-5 in the rugged Big 12 in the process.

• It might be time to declare the player of the year race in Evan Turner's favor if AnnArbor.com's latest survey of national player of the year voters is accurate. The Ohio State junior picked up 41 of 49 first-place votes and is the only player named on every ballot. "It means a lot, because people definitely counted me out when I got hurt and stuff like that," Turner said. "To get it, it'd prove to myself and just goes to show that you can never count out winners or a winner."

• Really touching story from Andy Katz on Mike Krzyzewski's friendship with the father of a 7-year-old boy who died in 1998 as a result of an aggressive brain tumor. The two met at a Michael Jordan fantasy basketball camp of all places."I think when we started talking, he felt that I would tell him the truth," Krzyzewski said. "He knew he could be completely honest and forthright and straightforward about everything. It was very emotional stuff. We are really, really close friends."

• Rhode Island picked itself off the mat and dusted Charlotte on Wednesday night, rolling to an 80-58 victory that has big ramifications for both teams. The Rams still have a glimmer of NCAA tournament life now if they avoid an upset loss at UMass on Saturday and then win at least a game or two in the Atlantic 10 tournament, while the 49ers are NIT-bound after a fifth loss in six games.

• Our first significant upset of conference tournament play came down Wednesday afternoon when eighth-seeded Kennesaw State toppled top seed Lipscomb in the first round of the Atlantic Sun tournament. While it's not exactly Chaminade-Virginia II, Kennesaw State is making its first appearance in conference tournament play after sitting out the past few years during its transition from Division II.

• Look up "team that could not afford a bad loss" in the dictionary and you'd probably find Mississippi State, which was clinging to an NCAA tournament berth before Wednesday night despite a lack of marquee victories. Then look up "bad loss" in the dictionary and you'll surely find Auburn, which was a robust 5-9 in the mediocre SEC. I'll let you guess what happened when the Tigers played. (Hint: the school rhyming with Blauburn won by nine)

• My colleague Matt Norlander provides a synopsis of the conference call Joe Lunardi conducted with reporters this week. I think Lunardi is on the money with everything he says with the exception of this peculiar tidbit: "I've done two Virginia Tech games and they didn't even remotely look like an NCAA tournament team to me either time. I don't know if Virginia Tech this year is better than Penn State last year - I'm guessing not." Malcolm Delaney and I both disagree.

• Memo to Rick Barnes: This isn't what you say to ingraciate yourself to your fan base in the midst of a disappointing second-half fade. "We would love to win a national championship, but we're not obsessed with it because we're obsessed with these guys trying to live their NBA dream," Barnes says, with a nod to their predecessors. "What's happened to Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, T.J. Ford -- I'd give up a national title for all of our guys to be able to live their dream."

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