Monday, March 15, 1999

Next: David vs. Goliath

Upstart Miami plays giant Kentucky in Sweet 16

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Wally Szczerbiak attacks Utah's big men. Next: UK.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        NEW ORLEANS — Miami, which hasn't been to college basketball's Sweet 16 since the field expanded to 64 teams, will play Kentucky, which makes plans to be there every March.

        “Kentucky, the defending national champions, against us — little Miami,” RedHawks All-American Wally Szczerbiak said. “That's pretty cool.”

        “It's probably considered the David and Goliath of the Midwest,” said Mike Ensminger, the Miami sophomore from Oak Hills. “But we love it. It's a great feeling knowing you're able to hang with the best teams in the country, so we're cherishing a chance to play UK.”

        UK and Miami will play Friday at the TWA Dome in St. Louis. The time will be determined today.

        No. 10 seed Miami became the underdog favorite of the tournament by beating No. 2 Utah 66-58 in the second round of the Midwest Regional at the Superdome here.

        UK made it an all-Tristate matchup in the Midwest Regional semifinals by beating Kansas 92-88 in an overtime classic here.

        Szczerbiak has gone from Miami's star to the star of March Madness in one weekend. He followed his career-high 43 points Friday with 24 points Sunday. He gives Miami a chance to beat Kentucky.

        "I saw him in the offseason," UK coach Tubby Smith said, "and we saw film of him against Tennessee. He's a tremendous athlete. Charlie and his staff do a good job of getting him good looks. (Damon) Frierson is an outstanding guard. We'll have our hands full."

        “Miami's a good team, and they've got an excellent player in Szczerbiak,” UK senior Wayne Turner said. “We're not going to overlook them, I promise.”

        It took a generation, but Miami's back for revenge against UK. The RedHawks' last Sweet 16 appearance came in 1978, when it lost 91-69 to UK in a Mideast Regional semifinal in Dayton.

        "That's the year I was born," said Miami's Rich Allendorf, a St. Xavier grad.