Friday, March 23, 2001

Southern Cal KOs Kentucky, 80-76




By HAL BOCK
AP Sports Writer

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Tubby Smith ponders UK's big deficit in the first half.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        PHILADELPHIA — With the game on the line, Southern California made sure David Bluthenthal would go to the line.

        Bluthenthal, an 80-percent free-throw shooter, hit five straight foul shots in the final half-minute Thursday night as USC hung on for an 80-76 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

        The sixth-seeded Trojans (24-9), seeking their first Final Four berth since 1954, advanced to Saturday's East Regional championship game against the winner of the Duke-UCLA game.

        USC used some sizzling first-half shooting and took advantage of a jittery, young Kentucky team in building a 21-point lead. Then, the proud Wildcats staged a furious second-half comeback, twice shaving the lead down to one point.

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Tayshaun Price
(Gary Landers photo)
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        It was 75-74 with 32 seconds to play when Bluthenthal, who led all scorers with 27 points and had six 3-pointers, took over. Every time USC put the ball inbounds, Bluthenthal took the pass. And every time he took the pass, he was fouled.

        That was fine with USC.

        “We have total confidence in David,” coach Henry Bibby said. “That's the guy we wanted to get fouled. He's an 80-percent shooter. I think it went the way we wanted.”

        Bluthenthal was happy to carry the burden at the end. “I knew if I was going to the line, I was going to make those shots,” he said. “It wasn't really hard to knock those free throws down.”

        At the start of the game, USC seemed to be making every shot. The Trojans hit 12 of their first 17 shots and built a 31-10 lead in the first 10 minutes. Meanwhile, second-seeded Kentucky (24-10) was staggering, sinking in a sea of air balls, missed shots and turnovers.

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Henry Bibby
(AP photo)
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        With coach Tubby Smith stamping his foot on the sidelines, the Wildcats seemed lost, unable to make shots or hang on to the ball. Kentucky managed just four baskets in the first eight minutes and one of them by Marvin Stone barely beat the 35-second clock.

        “We felt we were getting open looks but we were not hitting,” said point guard Saul Smith, who finished with five 3-pointers. “We dug ourselves a big hole by not doing enough on the defensive end when we needed to.”

        By halftime, USC's lead was 43-24, the largest deficit Kentucky has faced at that juncture all season. The Wildcats were down 42-32 against Arkansas in the SEC tournament semifinals, a game they came back to win 87-78.

        For a while, it seemed they would come back to win this one as well.

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Sam Clancy fouls Jason Parker
(AP photo)
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        Jason Parker, who had a career-high 22 points, and Keith Bogans led a 22-3 run that cut the lead to two points at 48-46. With four personal fouls on point guard Brandon Granville, the Trojans faced their first crisis of the game. But they would not fold.

        “It was calm in the huddle,” said Sam Clancy, who finished with 17 point. “Coach Bibby had faith in us and we had faith in the game plan.”

        That plan was to keep the ball away from Tayshaun Prince, Kentucky's leading scorer. Prince had been the catalyst for the Wildcats' recovery from a 3-5 start this season and had a streak 29 games with 10 or more points.

        That would end against USC.

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Keith Bogans is pressured by David Bluthenthal, left, and Brandon Granville.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        “We knew there were two guys who could beat us, Bogans and Prince,” Bibby said. “We concentrated on Prince, forced him to put the ball on the floor and kept him from shooting threes.”

        Prince, who had 58 points in the first two tournament games, scored just six and was 0-for-4 on 3-pointers after making 10 of his previous 15 attempts. It was the first time since the fourth game of the season he has scored less than 10.

        Bogans scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half but missed two crucial free throws at the end, right in the middle of Bluthenthal's streak of five.

        Besides Bluthenthal, USC had three others in double figures with Clancy scoring 17, Jeff Trepagnier 14 and Brian Scalabrine 13. Granville finished with eight assists, going over 200 for the second straight season.

SULLIVAN: USC happy to prevent UK-Duke
Complete tournament coverage at Cincinnati.com


USC (80)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Bluthenthal     35  7-13   7-8   1-3  1  2   27
Clancy          39  6-12  5-10   3-7  0  3   17
Scalabrine      35  6-11   1-1   2-6  4  3   13
Granville       28   3-7   0-1   1-2  8  4    7
Trepagnier      40   5-8   3-3   3-6  3  4   14
Turner           5   1-1   0-2   1-2  0  1    2
Hutchinson      12   0-0   0-0   0-1  2  1    0
Farmer           6   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 28-53 16-25 11-27 18 18   80
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.528, FT-.640. 3-Point Goals:
8-14, .571 (Bluthenthal 6-9, Scalabrine 0-1,
Granville 1-2, Trepagnier 1-2). Team rebounds: 1.
Blocked shots: 5 (Clancy 4, Trepagnier).
Turnovers: 14 (Granville 4, Clancy 2, Scalabrine
2, Trepagnier 2, Bluthenthal, Farmer,
Hutchinson). Steals: 11 (Trepagnier 4, Clancy 2,
Scalabrine 2, Bluthenthal, Hutchinson, Turner).


KENTUCKY (76)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Bogans          35 10-22   0-3   2-4  1  4   23
Prince          36   2-8   2-2   2-8  5  1    6
Parker          33  9-13   4-8  9-13  0  4   22
Fitch           29   1-5   0-0   2-6  4  1    2
Smith           32   5-8   2-2   2-3  4  4   17
Hawkins         10   0-2   0-0   0-0  1  2    0
Blevins          7   0-3   0-0   1-1  0  0    0
Daniels          5   1-2   0-0   1-2  0  0    2
Stone            6   2-3   0-0   1-2  0  1    4
Estill           7   0-3   0-1   1-1  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 30-69  8-16 21-40 15 17   76
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.435, FT-.500. 3-Point Goals:
8-23, .348 (Bogans 3-8, Prince 0-4, Fitch 0-2,
Smith 5-7, Blevins 0-2). Team rebounds: 2.
Blocked shots: 3 (Parker 2, Prince). Turnovers:
16 (Prince 4, Bogans 3, Fitch 3, Daniels, Estill,
Hawkins, Parker, Smith, Stone). Steals: 5 (Smith
3, Fitch, Parker).
__________________________________
Usc                43   37  -   80
Kentucky           24   52  -   76
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 20,270. Officials: Ted
Valentine, Tom O'neill, Joe Lindsay.


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