Sunday, March 23, 2003

UK, Utah still have ties to '98


Kentucky notebook

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For a game that was played five years ago, the Kentucky-Utah NCAA championship final in 1998 was quite alive in both locker rooms Saturday.

Both coaches, UK's Tubby Smith and Utah's Rick Majerus, are still at their respective schools.

Allen Edwards, who played in that game for UK, is now a Wildcat assistant coach. Utah still has two current players, sixth-year seniors Britton Johnsen and Trace Caton, who played that day.

"I can recapitulate that game in sequence to this day," Majerus said.

With that, he recounted his memory of switching his point guard, Andre Miller, to guard Jeff Sheppard late in the game to give him "rest" from guarding UK point guard Wayne Turner. Yet Sheppard curled off a screen to hit a big 3-pointer.

Majerus, Johnsen and Caton all spoke of how tough it was to have victory so close. Utah led by 12 points early in the second half and still held a four-point lead with about six minutes to play.

UK outscored the Utes 18-5 down the stretch, as Utah missed its final 11 shots.

"After the Duke game (a comeback from an 18-point deficit), we had a never-give-up mentality," Edwards said Saturday. "We were a well-conditioned team, and we were able to make them play our up-tempo game. They got tired."

Johnsen scored seven points in 16 minutes, and Caton was scoreless in five minutes. Both went on a two-year Mormon mission after that season, so they're just now finishing their eligibility.

"Their 'three' man (forward Heshimu Evans) hit a couple 3-pointers, and that was a shock to us," Caton said. "They were deep."

Said Johnsen: "I just remember being so close and thinking, 'How did we let it get away?' "

JOHNSEN OUT: Johnsen, Utah's best player, had been diagnosed with mononucleosis and ruled out of the NCAA Tournament because of an enlarged spleen. He went to see a doctor to get a second opinion Friday, but he's still ruled out.

"I would have played Britton tomorrow if I thought he could play," Majerus said. "But could he help us? Absolutely not. He couldn't get out of bed for our conference tournament last week, so he wouldn't have been all the way back by tomorrow."

POUND IT IN: Losing the 6-foot-10 Johnsen leaves Utah thinner inside. Oregon tried to attack Utah Friday and succeeded in fouling out 6-10 Tim Frost, 6-11 Chris Jackson and 7-foot Cameron Koford. The Ducks just ran out of time to exploit that.

"With Britton out of the lineup, it takes away their experience, but they still have the size and talent inside," UK sophomore forward Chuck Hayes said.

GIANT-KILLERS: Utah already has knocked off a top-ranked team this season, beating Alabama Dec. 30 when it was ranked No. 1.

In 1998, Utah beat two No. 1 seeds in the NCAAs - Arizona and North Carolina - and the Tar Heels were the nation's No. 1 team at the time.

---

E-mail nschmidt@enquirer.com

UK vs. Utah

Tipoff: Approximately 7:10 p.m. today, Gaylord Entertainment Center (18,500), Nashville, Tenn.

Records: UK 30-3, Utah 25-7.

TV: Ch. 12, 7.

Radio: WSAI-AM (1530).

Series: UK leads 7-2.

UK

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Chuck HayesSo.6-69.0
Erik DanielsJr.6-89.8
Marquis EstillSr.6-811.0
Keith BogansSr.6-515.9
Gerald FitchJr.6-312.5
Coach: Tubby Smith (162-46, sixth season; 286-108 overall)

UTAH

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Richard ChaneyFr.6-45.5
Trace CatonSr.6-44.8
Tim FrostJr.6-1013.0
Nick JacobsonJr.6-413.3
Tim DrisdomFr.6-34.7
Coach: Rick Majerus (308-89, 14th season; 407-141 overall)

STATISTICS

UKUTAH
49.2FG%45.2
41.1Opp. FG%41.1
36.13-pt.%38.3
32.6Opp. 3-pt.%32.0
70.3FT%71.0
78.1PPG66.9
64.1Opp. PPG59.9
+5.8Reb. margin+2.9
+2.5Turn. margin-0.1




NCAA TOURNAMENT
Full coverage at Cincinnati.com

MEN'S TOURNAMENT
Maryland 77, Xavier 64
Underdog Xavier has upset in mind
Daugherty: Bookends on XU's roster
Coaches experts on Terps
Majerus has the big blues
UK, Utah still have ties to '98
Apology ahead for UC's Machock
Gators-Spartans: Things could get rough
Cowboys will test Orangemen
Butler now faces Louisville's press
IU ready to mount a charge
After spurning Spartans' offer, Gators' Roberson must face them

MEN'S TOURNAMENT - SATURDAY'S GAMES
East: OU's Bookout covers for ailing Price
Midwest: Little-known Novak burns Mizzou
South: UConn turns to top guns
West: Hot-shooting Irish burn Illini
NCAA Tournament at a glance
NCAA Tourney notebook
NCAAs: The Skinny
NIT: Providence tops College of Charleston

WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT
New coach rebuilds XU from guards up
UC faces an uphill battle at home
Living legend roams Texas sidelines
Wright happy to be home
Women's tournament at a glance
Lady Vols have no problems at home

REDS / BASEBALL
Reds fans get first look
Graves lets go of bothersome pitch
Blue Jays 4, Reds 1
Harnisch is pleased with performance
Reds Q&A
It's the same old Angels, champs or not
Devil Rays release Vaughn

BENGALS / NFL
Bengals look to turn weakness into strength
Bengals Q&A
Rams bolster line with trade for Saints' Turley

PREP SPORTS
D-I state title: Moeller 73, Brookhaven 65
D-III state title: Reading 50, Sugarcreek Garaway 44
LeBron leads Ohio team to third state title
Ky: No. 1 Mason Co. 86, Lou. Ballard 65
Princeton's Davis joins elite crowd

GOLF
Tiger tames field, leads by five shots
Sorenstam closes in on 1st win of season

HOCKEY
Rangers keep slim hopes alive
Mighty Ducks beat Norfolk in overtime

NBA
Hawks stop O'Neal's shot at victory for Pacers
Hill won't give up despite surgeries

HORSE RACING
New York Hero tames Lion
Rider Cooksey injured in Turfway Park spill

TRISTATE SPOTLITE
Merchant's Harvard finale is memorable
Enquirer Page Two power rankings
Swarm gear up for af2 season
Following in footsteps of defunct Rockers

PLAN YOUR DAY
Sunday's sports on TV, radio