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Knight milestone highlights a magical hoops day

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

December 23, 2006

It was a special Saturday in college basketball.

The General, Robert Montgomery Knight, tied Dean Smith on the all-time win list at 879 as Texas Tech beat Bucknell in Lubbock. Now will the magical moment take place Thursday against a very good UNLV team? Lon Kruger's kids invade Lubbock and Knight can pass Smith as numero uno on the coaching victory list.

Down in Gainesville, it was quite a bash. I'm not talking about the pigskin, but the roundball as the defending national champion Gators sent a loud and clear message to the diaper dandies from Columbus. The Rowdy Reptiles celebrated as Billy Donovan's team put on a second-half spurt after the score was 40-40. Florida said it well ... This is our house, baby!

The Gators put on a brilliant performance and all five starters contributed. From Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey on the perimeter, to Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer up front, this was an impressive showing, winning by 26 points.

That puts Ohio State in a position where many of these young kids have never been before. They have dominated in high school and have not been humiliated before in college. Now we will see how they will respond. They have to regroup and refocus as this could be a great learning experience for the Buckeyes. They could turn this negative into a positive.

By the way, was this a message to Gator fans that this is just the beginning! Urban Meyer's team hooks up with the Buckeyes for the national title in football.

What about the show Chris Lofton put on for Tennessee. The Vols came from behind to beat the young, talented diaper dandies of Texas. Kevin Durant was his usual offensive self, a machine with 26 big ones. D. J. Augustin played well, but did not do enough to offset Lofton, who hit seven trifectas and finished with 35 points.

Then out at Pauley Pavilion, John Wooden greeted the players before the game. It was beautiful to see him smiling! The Bruins gave him plenty to smile about as Ben Howland's kids also sent a message to Michigan, as well as America. UCLA showed it is for real with a dominant performance against Tommy Amaker's Wolverines. Michigan was beaten handily, 92-55. The Wolverines turned the ball over 23 times, and as Chris Fowler would say in football, UCLA took 'em to the shed and gave them a whooping.

In Lawrence, Kansas, rock, chalk, Jayhawk country was happy. Kansas came out quickly and took charge, led by Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright, sending Boston College back to Chestnut Hill with an "L".

It was statement time for Florida, UCLA, Kansas and Tennessee, plus a big win for Knight. Indeed, a special Saturday in college basketball, my friends!

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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