Friday, March 21, 2003

West: Superior 'Zona handles exhausted Catamounts

Freshmen come up big for Illinois

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY - Vermont spent more time in the Denver airport than it did in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 1 seed Arizona, uninspired but superior in talent and depth, ousted the weary, 16th-seeded New Englanders 80-51 Thursday in the first round of the West Regional.

"We lost to a great, great team today," Vermont coach Tom Brennan said. "We spent two days in the biggest blizzard in the history of Denver. Who knew that would be the calm before the storm?"

Stranded overnight by the snowstorm in Denver en route to their first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Catamounts didn't get to Utah until 11 p.m. Wednesday. Thirteen hours later, they tipped off against one of the best teams in college basketball.

The results were predictable. Salim Stoudamire scored 18 points, 16 in the first half, and shot 4-of-8 on 3-pointers for the Wildcats. Stoudamire, bothered by tendinitis in both knees recently, benefited greatly from the time off coach Lute Olson gave the players after their loss to UCLA a week ago in the Pac-10 Tournament.

"The two days off probably did him more good than anybody else," Olson said. "Luke Walton right now is feeling better than he's felt since early November. Physically, I think we're there. We need to stop making unnecessary mistakes.".

Rick Anderson added 13 points and Channing Frye 12 points and 12 rebounds. Luke Walton had 12 points, six assists and six rebounds as Arizona (26-3) advanced to a second-round matchup with Gonzaga, a 74-69 winner over Cincinnati in Thursday's opener.

Jason Gardner's shooting woes continued. After going 2-for-20, including 0-for-12 from 3-point range, in Arizona's loss to UCLA in the opening game of the Pac-10 Tournament, the Wildcats' playmaker was 2-for-9, and 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. However, he had six assists and seven rebounds.

Taylor Coppenrath led Vermont (21-12) with 18 points. Matt Sheftic scored 10.

The Wildcats pulled away with a 16-4 spurt in the final five minutes of the first half, then made it a rout with an 18-4 second-half run. The long trip, and the level of competition, took its inevitable toll.

"Everybody could see at the 15-minute mark of the second half that we were dead," Brennan said. "I just tried to implore upon them that there were thousands of people watching back home. 'You guys have been fighting all year long, been tough all year long. Just don't go away."'.

As brief as it was, the tournament appearance was something to cherish for Vermont.

"We just feel good to be here. It was a lot of fun. We came here to play the game," Grant Anderson said. "We weren't worried about everything else," Grant Anderson said. "We're just happy with the experience."

VER. (21-12)-Coppenrath 7-18 2-2 18, G.Anderson 3-6 0-0 6, Sheftic 3-10 4-4 10, Hehn 2-8 0-0 4, Njila 0-4 0-0 0, Phelan 0-0 0-0 0, A.Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Goia 1-7 0-0 3, Sullivan 1-4 0-0 3, Jones 3-7 1-1 7. Totals 20-64 7-7 51.

ARIZ. (26-3)-Walton 5-7 0-0 12, R.Anderson 6-9 0-0 13, Gardner 2-9 0-0 4, Frye 5-11 2-4 12, Stoudamire 6-10 2-2 18, Fox 1-4 0-0 2, Ranne 1-1 0-0 2, Torres 0-0 0-0 0, Rodgers 0-2 4-4 4, Adams 3-5 2-2 8, Iguodala 2-8 1-2 5. Totals 31-66 11-14 80.

Halftime-Arizona 39-22. 3-Point Goals-Vermont 4-16 (Coppenrath 2-5, Sullivan 1-2, Goia 1-5, Njila 0-1, Hehn 0-3), Arizona 7-23 (Stoudamire 4-8, Walton 2-4, R.Anderson 1-3, Adams 0-1, Iguodala 0-2, Gardner 0-5). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Vermont 34 (Hehn, Jones 6), Arizona 47 (Frye 12). Assists-Vermont 12 (Hehn 4), Arizona 22 (Gardner, Walton 6). Total fouls-Vermont 15, Arizona 8. A-14,378

Illinois 65, Western Kentucky 60

INDIANAPOLIS - The Illinois freshmen showed no signs of nervousness in their first NCAA Tournament game Thursday.

The Illini's three first-year starters - James Augustine, Deron Williams and Dee Brown - combined for 37 points, 16 rebounds and 13 assists, and Brown hit two free throws with 22.8 seconds left to seal Illinois' 65-60 victory over Western Kentucky in the West Regional.

"We're starting to learn our roles," Brown said after finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

Brian Cook, a senior and the Big Ten's player of the year, had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

But it was the emergence of Augustine, Williams and Brown that was the big surprise and proved to be the difference. They made big plays at critical moments, and when Cook fouled out with 2:03 to go, they closed out the victory.

Augustine provided another inside presence, especially with Cook out. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Williams took only seven shots but made all three of his 3-point attempts and finished with 11 points and four assists.

"The one thing that probably surprised me was Deron Williams going three-for-three from 3-point range," Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton said. "That made things a little more difficult for us."

And, fittingly, the game ended with Brown dribbling out the clock and sending No. 4 seed Illinois (25-6) into the second round for a matchup with Notre Dame.

No. 13 seed Western Kentucky led 43-41 with 12:27 to go, but Cook tied the score with a dunk and Williams' 3-pointer gave Illinois the lead.

The Hilltoppers (24-9) tied the score three times, but the Illini never trailed again.

W. KENTUCKY (24-9)-Videnov 3-4 0-0 7, Boyden 2-9 2-3 8, N.Williams 7-13 3-5 17, Wells 3-8 1-3 8, Sparks 2-13 1-1 6, Halcomb 1-1 1-1 3, Winchester 3-6 0-0 9, Rumph 0-1 0-0 0, J.Brown 1-3 0-0 2, Massiah 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-58 8-13 60.

ILLINOIS (25-6)-Augustine 4-8 2-2 10, Powell 1-5 0-2 2, Cook 6-14 4-4 17, D.Williams 4-7 0-0 11, D.Brown 6-13 4-4 16, Head 3-9 2-2 9, Harrington 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-56 12-14 65.

Halftime-Illinois 31-28. 3-point goals-W. Kentucky 8-24 (Winchester 3-5, Boyden 2-4, Videnov 1-2, Wells 1-3, Sparks 1-10), Illinois 5-14 (D.Williams 3-3, Cook 1-1, Head 1-5, Powell 0-2, D.Brown 0-3). Fouled out-Cook. Rebounds-W. Kentucky 35 (Boyden, Wells 6), Illinois 38 (Cook 10). Assists-W. Kentucky 10 (Sparks 5), Illinois 15 (D.Brown 8). Total fouls-W. Kentucky 16, Illinois 14. A-NA.

Kansas 64, Utah St. 61

OKLAHOMA CITY - Apparently, it takes the Jayhawks a while to get going in the NCAA Tournament.

One year after surviving a scare against 16th-seeded Holy Cross, Kansas held on to beat No. 15 seed Utah State.

The second-seeded Jayhawks (28-7) questioned their seeding after winning the Big 12 regular-season title, but got more than just a tuneup from Utah State (24-9).

But Utah State missed two 3-point tries in the final 10 seconds.

Keith Langford scored 22 points and Nick Collison had 18 for the Jayhawks.

Desmond Penigar had 25 points for Utah State.

Arizona State 84, Memphis 71

OKLAHOMA CITY - Ike Diogu, the Pac-10 freshman of the year, scored 22 points - including 10 during Arizona State's key second-half run.

Diogu shot 9-of-11 from the field with a variety of post moves and even stepped out to hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 13-0 second-half run that opened up a 10-point lead for the Sun Devils.

"I'm not sure if they really thought I could shoot out there," said Diogu, who went 6-of-6 in the second half before fouling out with just over a minute left.

"Coach (Rob) Evans, when I'm open, has full confidence in me."

Tenth-seeded Arizona State (20-11) moves on to Saturday's second round against No. 2 seed Kansas.

Chris Massie scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds for seventh-seeded Memphis (23-7), which came in with high hopes in its first tournament appearance since 1996.

The Tigers had little go their way Thursday night, shooting just 36 percent from the field and 7-of-28 on 3-pointers.

"When they shoot 70 percent in the second half, it's going to be a hard game to win," Tigers coach John Calipari said of the Sun Devils.

Diogu took over in the second half.

His two free throws started the Sun Devils' game-changing run. He then hit a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc and Redhage followed with another.

Diogu, who hit only seven 3-pointers all season, then made one again from almost the same spot a minute later. He followed that with a nifty up-and-under move past a defender for a layup that made it 45-35 with 15:27 left.

ARIZONA ST. (20-11)-Diogu 9-11 2-2 22, Redhage 6-13 4-4 18, Smith 4-7 1-2 9, Dodd 3-5 0-0 6, Millage 6-15 4-6 17, Braxton 2-2 0-0 5, Crandall 0-1 1-2 1, Knight 1-4 4-6 6, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Osborne 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-59 16-22 84.

MEMPHIS (23-7)-Carney 2-8 2-2 8, Erwin 0-2 0-0 0, Massie 8-14 4-8 20, Burks 6-11 2-4 15, Rice 3-8 0-0 8, Hunt 1-7 0-0 3, Richmond 1-5 0-0 2, Grice 2-8 2-2 7, Barron 2-6 4-5 8, Root 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-69 14-21 71.

Halftime-Memphis 33-32. 3-Point Goals-Arizona St. 6-14 (Diogu 2-2, Redhage 2-4, Braxton 1-1, Millage 1-4, Crandall 0-1, Dodd 0-1, Knight 0-1), Memphis 7-28 (Carney 2-5, Rice 2-6, Burks 1-2, Hunt 1-6, Grice 1-7, Barron 0-1, Massie 0-1). Rebounds-Arizona St. 37 (Millage 11), Memphis 42 (Massie 13). Assists-Arizona St. 18 (Millage 9), Memphis 11 (Burks 5). Total fouls-Arizona St. 19, Memphis 18. A-18,462

CMU 79, Creighton 73

SALT LAKE CITY - The Mid-American Conference magic is back for another run in the NCAA Tournament.

Central Michigan, the only school representing the MAC in this year's field of 65, added to the league's history of upsets Thursday night by beating Creighton 79-73 in the first round of the West Regional.

"Being favored doesn't mean a thing to us," said Mike Manciel, who scored a season-high 29 points to lead the 11th-seeded Chippewas. "I always feel like the underdog. We've been working hard, and that's what we're going to stick with."

Central Michigan (25-6) allowed the lead to dwindle to two before sealing the victory by shooting 5-of-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch.

It was the Chippewas' second first-round win in four NCAA trips. They hadn't been in the field since 1987.

It marks the fourth time in five years that a MAC team has reached the second round of the tournament. And the mid-major conference has a history of sticking around recently.

Last year, No. 10 seed Kent State made it within one win of the Final Four, losing in the quarterfinals to Indiana. Miami University made it to the round of 16 in 1999, also as a 10th seed.

The Chippewas are ready to see just how far an 11th seed can go this time.

Creighton (29-5) was knocked out in the first round after drawing its highest seed in 14 NCAA appearances. The Bluejays could not completely recover from a dismal first half, when they shot 25 percent and committed 13 turnovers.

"We weren't ready to play and that's my job. We came out flat in the first half," coach Dana Altman said. "This is an outstanding group. They showed their character in the second half. They showed why they've played in the last five NCAA Tournaments."

The Missouri Valley Conference champions have made five straight NCAA appearances - and gone home after the first round in three of the last four.

Kyle Korver led Creighton with 21 points in his final college game, scoring 14 in the second half.

Tony Bowne scored 14 and J.R. Wallace and Chris Kaman each had 12 for Central Michigan. Kaman was nearly 13 points below his scoring average and was hampered by foul trouble.

Manciel made up for his absence, going 6-for-7 and scoring 15 points in the first 20 minutes as the Chippewas went 17-for-29 from the floor. Central Michigan was cruising after going on a 20-2 run that spanned the end of the first half and beginning of the second.

CENT. MICHIGAN (25-6)-Bowne 5-6 1-2 14, Manciel 9-14 11-16 29, Kaman 6-11 0-1 12, Wallace 4-10 4-4 12, Meerman 1-4 2-2 4, Robinson 2-3 0-0 4, Voorhees 0-0 0-0 0, Carr 1-1 0-0 2, Brigitha 0-1 0-0 0, Dentlinger 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 29-53 18-25 79.

CREIGHTON (29-5)-Lindeman 3-8 1-1 8, Korver 7-14 2-2 21, Deren 1-6 2-2 4, House 5-11 0-0 11, McKinney 0-0 1-2 1, Bowden 0-3 1-2 1, Funk 0-2 2-2 2, Miliner 0-0 0-0 0, Dabbert 4-6 2-2 10, Grimes 7-10 1-4 15. Totals 27-60 12-17 73.

Halftime score-Cent. Michigan 38-22. 3-Point Goals-Cent. Michigan 3-7 (Bowne 3-3, Manciel 0-1, Meerman 0-1, Robinson 0-1, Wallace 0-1), Creighton 7-17 (Korver 5-9, House 1-1, Lindeman 1-3, Bowden 0-2, Funk 0-2). Fouled out-House. Rebounds-Cent. Michigan 31 (Manciel 8), Creighton 31 (Korver 9). Assists-Cent. Michigan 15 (Bowne, Wallace 5), Creighton 20 (McKinney 6). Total fouls-Cent. Michigan 19, Creighton 21. A-NA.

Duke 67, Colorado St. 57

SALT LAKE CITY - With leading scorer Dahntay Jones on the bench and a capacity crowd enthusiastically hollering against them, the Duke Blue Devils survived a shaky night out West.

Big Shelden Williams pulled them through.

The 6-foot-9 freshman scored on an offensive rebound with 1:21 to play, then sank two free throws with 44.2 seconds left and the Blue Devils beat Colorado State 67-57 Thursday night in the first round of the West Regional.

The game was nowhere near that one-sided. Third-seeded Duke scored the last eight points after the Rams, the sixth-place team in the Mountain West Conference during the regular season, went on a 14-7 run to cut the lead to 59-57 on Brian Greene's 16-footer with 2:59 to play.

"It's not the Duke team that we wanted to show tonight," Williams said. "We've still got some things to work on."

The 14th-seeded Rams (19-14), upset winners of their conference tournament, had a chance to tie it but freshman Shelton Johnson, a 52 percent free-throw shooter, missed two from the line with 1:54 remaining.

After Williams' four big points, J.J Reddick, who scored 16, made four consecutive free throws in the final 26 seconds to send Duke (25-6) into a second-round matchup Saturday against 11th-seeded Central Michigan, an upset winner over Creighton.

Matt Nelson, Colorado State's 7-foot sophomore center, scored 21 points on 8-for-18 shooting. Greene was the only other Ram in double figures with 14 points, but he shot just 3-of-15 from the field.

Jones scored 23 points for Duke, three shy of his career high, but fouled out with 5:51 to play.

His fifth foul came on Matt Williams' three-point play that capped an 8-2 Rams run and cut Duke's lead to 54-51.

"It's a terrible feeling," Jones said of that final foul, "but you've got to trust your teammates."

Daniel Ewing came off the bench to sink a 3-pointer and a driving layup to put the Blue Devils up 59-51 with 4:52 to play, but Colorado State had one more challenge left.

Ewing had a novel take on his team's struggles.

"I think it was a good game for us to play close," he said. "If we had blown a team out, we might have come out lackadaisical on Saturday."

The Blue Devils nearly didn't get to play Saturday at all.

"Everybody saw Duke vs. Colorado State. Nobody thought we could do it," Greene said. "Having a chance to win it with 21/2 minutes left was just unbelievable."

Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski called it "an incredibly tough defensive game" and would not fault his team's effort.

"If we weren't ready to play and hadn't played hard, we would have gotten our (tails) kicked," he said.

Neither team shot well - Duke 35 percent and Colorado State 33 percent. But the Blue Devils were 25-for-31 at the foul line, compared to 18-for-22 for the Rams.

"I thought our defensive effort was terrific, and I thought their defensive effort was the best we've ever seen," Rams coach Dale Layer said. "It was hard to score all night."

Duke has lost just one opening-round NCAA tournament game since 1984. That was seven years ago against Eastern Michigan.

This one nearly ended the same way in front of a capacity crowd that enthusiastically backed the Rams at the University of Utah's Jon Huntsman Center.

"It was a tough environment," Jones said. "It was like a home game for them."

Jones scored the first 11 Duke points in the first half, and the first five in the second. Leading 36-30 at the break, Duke scored the first six points of the second half to go up 42-30 when Williams made one of two free throws.

Colorado State went 7:16 without a field goal in the first half and still trailed only 17-14 after Nelson ended the drought with an inside basket with 9:48 to play.

The Rams caught the Blue Devils at 20-20 with 7:19 to play in the half on a 6-0 spurt, the last four on free throws by Greene.

Duke regained control with an 11-2 run and led the rest of the way, but usually not by much.

Notre Dame 70, UW-Milwaukee 69

INDIANAPOLIS - Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Clay Tucker held the ball as time ticked off, waiting for the right opportunity to make team history.

He drove the lane, ran into a triple team and dished to Dylan Page right under the basket. But Page's shot rolled off the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

The Panthers' first tournament victory would have to wait.

Chris Thomas scored 27 points - playing all 40 minutes - to lead Notre Dame to a 70-69 victory Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA West Regional.

"What more could I ask for?" Panthers coach Bruce Pearl said. "Our best player had the ball in his hands. He was ready to score, but he drew the defense and got a great look for Dylan. The ball just didn't go in."

The fifth-seeded Irish (23-9) are in the second round for the third straight year, though they haven't advanced to the round of the 16 during that stretch. They'll play Illinois on Saturday, but could be without Matt Carroll who missed the second half with a sprained left ankle.

The Panthers (24-8) were making their first appearance in the tournament in their 107-year history - and first postseason appearance since the 1989 Division II tournament.

Tucker and Ronnie Jones led the Panthers with 18 points, and Page had 15.

They were in no hurry to head home and played like tournament veterans down the stretch.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee though, had no solution for Thomas, as the Indianapolis native silenced every Panthers' rally with clutch baskets, assists or free throws.

He even got a hand on Page's final shot - he thinks.

"I either fouled him or hit the ball," he said with a grin. "I'm just glad he came out there and missed the shot."

Thomas missed his share - he was 9-for-21 from the floor - but seemingly sank his shots when he had to. He also came up with an assist that won't be found in the stat sheet.

Thomas shaved the heads of his Fighting Irish teammates on Wednesday as a show of team unity. Talk about your Golden Domes.

"The Fab Five did it when they were in the tournament," Thomas said. "And it's for the men and women in the war."

Unity wasn't enough to hold off the Panthers until the end.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee led 69-68 after Jason Frederick's 3-pointer with 2:28 left and forced an airball on Notre Dame's next possession.

The Irish, playing only 140 miles away from home, had the possession arrow and got the ball back on a tieup. After two looks at the basket, Torin Francis grabbed a loose ball in the lane and scored the winning points on a putback with 32.8 seconds to go.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee did not call timeout, and Tucker set up Page right under the basket for the final shot.

"We can't focus on this last layup," Tucker said. "We could focus on layups I missed, free throws we missed and other shots we missed."

Francis finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Thomas scored seven straight points to give Notre Dame a 48-40 lead, but that was wiped out by a 10-0 run by the Panthers.

Ronnie Jones hit a 3-pointer to make it 50-48 with 10:22 left, but Thomas responded with a 3 of his own.

Thomas made a steal on the next possession and was fouled as he drove into the lane. He sank two free throws, then had an assist on Notre Dame's next possession to make it 55-50.

With just under three minutes left, Justin Lettenberger hit a 3 to pull the Panthers within a point.

Thomas hit two more free throws to make it 68-66 before Frederick hit his 3.

Frederick pumped his fist as the small, but vocal, crowd went wild. It was the last big basket of the season for the Panthers.

"We just didn't get the blessing this time," Tucker said. "We had a lot of wonderful blessings this year."

Gonzaga 74, UC 69
Referee to Machock: 'You're out'
Bobbitt wastes last shot
UC football staff set for 2003

Muskies planning to seize moment
Near upsets get XU's attention
Coach's intensity bringing out best in rookie Boothe

Wildcats trying to keep their focus on IUPUI
Harper visits IUPUI
Daugherty: Crenshaw torn about playing during war
Satellite viewers at CBS' mercy
Three upsets and four that were close
East: Midgley shoots, California advances
Midwest: Tulsa upends Dayton; Wisconsin moves on
South: Okafor, UConn bounce BYU
West: Superior 'Zona handles exhausted Catamounts
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