Saturday, March 20, 1999

KENTUCKY 58, MIAMI 43


Cinderella sings the blues

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ST. LOUIS — On the college basketball landscape, Miami's thrilling postseason run earned it a prominent spot on the map. Kentucky, though, remains the capital.

        The Wildcats wore down Miami to pull away for a 58-43 victory in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday at the Trans World Dome. UK (28-8), the region's third seed, advances to play top-seeded Michigan State (32-4) in the regional final here at 5 p.m. Sunday.

        The Wildcats, defending national champions, need only win Sunday to reach the Final Four for the fourth consecutive season.

        “It's what you dream of as a player, as a kid growing up, and it's amazing to think we could be going back again,” UK sophomore Ryan Hogan said.

        Miami, which had never before won two games in an NCAA Tournament, tied a single-season school record for victories in finishing 24-8.

        “Kentucky's a great team, and we had a great run,” Miami coach Charlie Coles said. “We thank you all for the attention and coverage we got, and I hope we come this way again.”

        UK's lead was just 35-28 with 11:15 left in the game, but a zone defense designed to slow Miami All-American Wally Szczerbiak and UK's overwhelming depth advantage helped stop Miami.

        Szczerbiak scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting in his final collegiate game, but he had little help. The rest of the RedHawks shot 6-of-28 (21.4 percent).

        UK senior Scott Padgett scored 10 points in a clinching 14-4 run.

        “Padgett got some threes, some big baskets, and they shut us down,” Coles said. “They did a marvelous defensive job.

        “It could be a year from now, and I still won't know the answer to what they did. I know they played a zone, but I know we didn't attack it very well.”

        The Wildcats struggled much of the first half, totaling 10 turnovers and leading only 23-19 in the closing moments of the half. But a Saul Smith three-pointer at the halftime buzzer started a 10-2 run that gave UK a 33-21 edge, and its lead would never again slip below seven points.

        Szczerbiak scored 15 of Miami's 19 first-half points, but then totaled just two baskets in the first 16 minutes of the second half. UK's big men helped account for a 37-18 rebounding edge.

        “Their zone, we had no answer for it,” he said. “There was no tactical thing we could have done. They stick those long arms out, and it's tough to get a shot up.”

        Depth was the difference.

        “We could see midway through the second half when (Miami) people hit the wall,” UK coach Tubby Smith said. “Wally, we wore him down some. He was working very hard. We made everybody on their team work hard for their points.”

        Szczerbiak outscored UK's starters 15-12 in the first half, but reserves helped UK post a 26-19 halftime lead. UK led 19-10 when a Szczerbiak three-pointer started Miami on a 7-2 run to cut the lead to four.

        That's what the deficit was when UK got the game's biggest basket. Smith missed a three-pointer, but he ran forward to rebound and shoot in the same motion.

        He made what appeared to be a 15-footer at the buzzer, but UK coaches appealed that Smith had taken off from behind the three-point arc. After a replay, the officials agreed, changed it to a three, and UK's lead was 26-19.

        Should UK win Sunday, senior point guard Wayne Turner would become just the fourth player in NCAA history to play in four Final Fours. Duke's Greg Koubek (1988-91), Christian Laettner ('89-92) and Brian Davis ('89-92) are the only three to have done it.

        Michigan State, the nation's second-ranked team, beat Oklahoma 54-46 in the first semifinal Friday. It is 28-1 since Dec.5.

        “A lot of people still don't know about us,” MSU junior forward A.J. Granger said. “That's OK. We've taken the approach all year to be the hunter, even when we do get classified as the hunted.”

        This will be the first meeting between UK and Michigan State since the 1978 NCAA Tournament, when UK beat the Magic Johnson-led Spartans 52-49 in a regional final en route to winning the national championship. Johnson, who led his team to the title the next season, came Friday to speak to the Spartans and cheer them on, and he'll surely return Sunday.

        “It means a lot to have the greatest player of all time here talking to us,” MSU senior guard Thomas Kelley said. “He didn't mention that (1978 defeat), but he probably will tomorrow.”

Photo gallery
Wally sweet, but Miami not elite Tim Sullivan column
Enough Wally, but not enough help
KENTUCKY NOTES
MIAMI NOTES
MICHIGAN STATE 54, OKLAHOMA 46
MARCH MADNESS PAGE


MIAMI  (43)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Estick          25   1-2   0-1   0-3  0  3    2
Szczerbiak      38  8-16   3-4   0-2  2  4   23
Mestas          36   1-4   0-0   0-4  1  3    2
Frierson        38  3-10   1-2   2-3  2  1    9
Stewart         14   0-4   0-0   0-2  0  1    0
Grunkemeyer      6   0-2   0-0   1-1  0  0    0
Helmers          1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Taylor          23   1-4   4-4   0-0  0  1    7
Lethunya         5   0-0   0-0   0-1  1  0    0
Locklier         1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Allendorf        1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Ensminger       12   0-2   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 14-44  8-11  3-17  6 13   43
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.318, FT-.727. 3-Point Goals: 7-20, .350 (Szczerbiak 4-10, Mestas 0-2, Frierson 2-3, Stewart 0-2, Grunkemeyer 0-2, Taylor 1-1). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 1 (Estick). Turnovers: 11 (Szczerbiak 6, Frierson 2, Estick, Mestas, Stewart). Steals: 6 (Szczerbiak 2, Ensminger, Frierson, Stewart, Taylor).

KENTUCKY (58) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Padgett 23 5-9 5-6 0-4 2 3 17 Evans 28 4-7 3-3 3-7 4 1 11 Bradley 18 0-1 0-0 0-3 1 3 0 Turner 30 3-6 1-2 1-2 3 2 7 Allison 13 1-3 0-0 0-2 0 2 3 Blevins 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Masiello 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Smith 20 2-4 1-2 1-3 0 2 7 Tackett 2 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Prince 18 1-2 0-0 0-3 0 0 2 Hogan 8 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 Camara 17 3-3 0-0 1-4 0 0 6 Magloire 21 1-4 3-4 0-6 0 3 5 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 20-42 13-17 6-34 11 16 58 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.476, FT-.765. 3-Point Goals: 5-15, .333 (Padgett 2-5, Evans 0-1, Allison 1-2, Smith 2-4, Tackett 0-1, Prince 0-1, Hogan 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 3 (Padgett, Prince, Camara). Turnovers: 16 (Evans 6, Camara 3, Padgett 3, Prince 2, Bradley). Steals: 5 (Evans 2, Turner 2, Padgett). __________________________________ Miami 19 24 - 43 Kentucky 26 32 - 58 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 42,440. Officials: Mike Sanzere, Charles Range, Dick Paparo.