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Race for the ages

Redick-Morrison duel has added intrigue to season

Posted: Wednesday March 1, 2006 2:14PM; Updated: Thursday March 2, 2006 10:36AM
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J.J. Redick (above) currently averages 28 points per game, just behind Adam Morrison, who leads the nation with a 28.8 average.
J.J. Redick (above) currently averages 28 points per game, just behind Adam Morrison, who leads the nation with a 28.8 average.
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Someday, whenever anyone asks about my defining moment of the 2005-06 college basketball regular season, I'll recall a scene from the floor of Seattle's KeyArena on Dec. 10, 2005. It was a few minutes before the start of Gonzaga's game against Oklahoma State, and Adam Morrison (who is a diabetic) was checking his blood-sugar numbers on the Bulldogs' bench.

I went over and told him the news: "Dude, J.J. had 41 against Texas."

The look that came over his face was priceless. "No way," was his reply, and right then you knew something special was going to happen that day. It did, of course: Morrison banked in a ridiculous, game-winning, fadeaway 3-pointer in the final seconds -- with two defenders in his grill, no less -- and suddenly, indisputably, the national Player of the Year race was on.

But there was more to it than that. At the end of an hour-long interview two days earlier, right as we were wrapping things up, Morrison had dropped in a golden nugget:

"Me and J.J. Redick are friends."

"Oh, really?" I replied. 

"We met at Jordan camp."

"So what's the story?"

"He's a cool guy. We talk once or twice a week playing Halo 2 online."

Playing a video game together allowed Redick and Morrison to blow off some steam, escape hoops talk for a while and, perhaps most important, save a few bucks on cell-phone bills. "It's so much better," Morrison emphasized, "because it's free long distance."

Something tells me neither guy will have to worry about his phone bill once he gets to the League. For now, as we head into March and an entirely new season, it seems like a good time to thank SI's latest coverboys for giving us a storyline -- and an unprecedented scoring race -- to remember.

"I generally don't pay a lot of attention to what other teams or guy are doing, but I've had a lot of fun watching Adam play," says Redick, who estimates he's seen a dozen of Morrison's games. "To see him put up numbers and carry his team at times and win a lot of games, it's kind of like Saint Joseph's having such a great season two years ago. Anytime you have these storylines in college basketball, it's good for our sport."

"I think we'll always be linked," says Morrison, who's seen "eight or nine" of Redick's games this season. "It's cool that everyone's giving us so much attention, but it's getting kind of ridiculous when announcers start talking about us. You almost have to turn the sound down low to watch his games."

How historic are RedMo's achievements? Consider: Never in the 58-year history of the Associated Press poll have the nation's top two scorers finished the regular season on top-five teams. If Redick and Morrison can maintain their national scoring supremacy this week -- and if their teams can avoid losing --they will be the first.