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Indiana, Kent State, Missouri spring upsets

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2002

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Duke won't go back-to-back again. Indiana is back, plain and simple. And Jason Williams' college career ends on a sour note.

With a never-give-up rally and a wild ending, Indiana produced an upset as stunning as any in the Hoosiers' hoops history.

After chipping away at a deficit that was as big as 17 points, fifth-seeded Indiana took advantage of another miss by Williams at the foul line to beat the defending national champion Blue Devils 74-73 in the South Regional semifinals Thursday night.

''We messed up a lot of brackets,'' Indiana coach Mike Davis said. ''Just tear 'em up, throw 'em away.''

Top-seeded Duke had a chance to tie it with 4.2 seconds left when Williams -- a unanimous All-American -- was fouled as he made a long 3-pointer to get the Blue Devils within a point. But he missed the free throw, and Carlos Boozer couldn't convert a follow shot.

''I'm not stunned,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after his team's eight-game NCAA tourney winning streak ended. ''I'm 55 and I need a hip replaced. I coach a game where I know we can lose every time we go on the court.''

Indiana (23-11), making it first trip to a regional final since Bob Knight took them to the final eight in 1993, will play Kent State for a spot in the Final Four. Kent State advanced with a 78-73 overtime victory over Pittsburgh.

It was the most significant victory of Davis' tenure, which began when Knight was fired in 2000. Davis has had to deal with the pressure of succeeding a coach who won three national titles in a state that treats basketball as religion.

''I am going to ask for a raise,'' Davis said, joking. ''I am trying to walk in the right spirit, and when you do that you have to let some things roll off your shoulders. It's my job to put a product on the court that Indiana fans can be proud of. It's my job to make sure that my guys play hard for 40 minutes.''

Jared Jeffries had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Hoosiers, who held Duke to 33 percent shooting in the second half.

That strong defense helped Indiana climb back into a game it trailed 29-12 after 11 minutes, with 19 of Duke's points coming off Indiana turnovers.

But just as in losses to Florida State and Virginia during the regular season, Williams failed to convert from the foul line when it counted most.

''The hardest thing is, this is it for me,'' said Williams, a junior who is heading to the NBA. ''I've always dreamed of being in that situation, and the ball just didn't bounce my way.''

Williams, only a 67 percent free-throw shooter, left the Rupp Arena court in tears.

Duke was trying to be the first school with consecutive NCAA titles since it won championships in 1991 and '92, and these Blue Devils returned four starters from the team which beat Arizona in the 2001 final. The Wildcats lost Thursday, too, falling to Oklahoma 88-67 in the West Regional semifinals.

Oklahoma 88, Arizona 67

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Superstition gave Hollis Price his new hands and Oklahoma its chance to advance.

Price, off target during the pregame warmups, had 26 points and a season-high six 3-pointers as Oklahoma beat Arizona 88-67 Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals.

''I've got a superstition. If I'm not hitting in warmups, I'll come in the locker room, and I'll wash my hands,'' Price said. ''I came out with a new set of hands.''

Second-seeded Oklahoma (30-4) heads to its first regional final since 1988, and will play Missouri in an all-Big 12 matchup. The 12th-seeded Tigers beat UCLA 82-73 Thursday.

Third-seeded Arizona (24-10), which lost to Duke in last year's NCAA championship game, could not overcome the Sooners' tough defense or Price, whose accurate outside shooting kept Oklahoma in it early before a sustained second-half rally.

''In the end I don't think there was any question,'' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. ''Oklahoma was quicker and a whole lot more explosive.''

Jason Gardner, probably playing his last college game, led the Wildcats with 14 points. Luke Walton, the son of former UCLA and NBA great Bill Walton, had nine points and eight assists.

With Duke's loss to Indiana on Thursday, both participants in last season's final were knocked out within 30 minutes.

Aaron McGhee finished with 21 points and eight rebounds for Oklahoma, with 19 points in the final 7 minutes as the Sooners turned a close game into a blowout.

The Wildcats singled him out after he averaged 25.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the Sooners' first two tournament games.

''When I was on the inside, I wasn't really hitting anything,'' McGhee said. ''It was like there was a lid on the basket.''

Arizona apparently forgot about Price.

''Early in the game he was feeling his shot -- and you can't let a player like that get his stroke on,'' Walton said.

Oklahoma jumped out to an 8-2 lead, as Price made two 3-pointers. But the Sooners went scoreless for more than five minutes, and the Wildcats narrowed the gap before taking a 10-8 lead on Rick Anderson's jumper.

The Wildcats shut down McGhee, and Oklahoma had to rely on its perimeter shooting. Price carried the Sooners, with 22 of their 33 points before halftime.

The Wildcats took a 28-23 lead on freshman Will Bynum's acrobatic layup with 5:31 to go, and the Wildcats stretched their lead to as many as seven points on the way to a 37-33 halftime edge.

''I was really disappointed with our competitiveness in the first half,'' Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. ''I got into them a little bit at halftime. I said, 'This isn't about winning and losing. This is about our identity.' You're always known for something, and in the first half, we didn't do the things we're known for.''

Price made a mistake when he lost the ball at midcourt, and Gardner snatched it up as it rolled toward Arizona's basket. Gardner outran Price for the basket and got fouled to give the Wildcats a 44-40 lead.

But the Sooners went on an 11-0 run, capped by Ebi Ere's 3-pointer, to go up 51-44. They were able to slow down the speedy Wildcats during the spurt, and kept the game at their pace throughout the rest of the half.

Missouri 82, UCLA 73

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert demonstrated what everyone in the West Regional already suspected: Missouri is no ordinary 12th seed.

Gilbert scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half, and Rush scored 20 points to help the Tigers roar to their third upset of the tournament, beating eighth-seeded UCLA 82-73 Thursday night.

Arthur Johnson had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Tigers (24-11), who advanced to face Oklahoma on Saturday in an all-Big 12 regional final. The second-seeded Sooners beat Arizona 88-67.

Missouri, ranked as high as No. 2 early in the season before slumping during conference play, go to the final eight for the first time since 1994.

Matt Barnes scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half for UCLA (21-12), which has reached the regional semifinals in five of six seasons under coach Steve Lavin, but won there just once.

The Bruins led much of the game, but wilted under the second-half pressure of Missouri's remarkable outside shooting.

UCLA was ahead 57-54 with 10 minutes to play, but Rush and Gilbert -- who each hit four 3-pointers -- propelled a 19-6 run that put it away before the final minutes.

At the final buzzer, the Tigers embraced each other and coach Quin Snyder, who has answered the critics of Missouri's late-season slide with a trip to the regional final in just his third season.

Kent State 78, Pittsburgh 73, OT

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kent State can't stop springing surprises.

The 10th-seeded Golden Flashes played smothering defense and slowed the tempo at every opportunity Thursday night, defeating No. 3 Pittsburgh 78-73 in overtime in the South Regional semifinals.

Kent State (30-5) had never advanced beyond the second round of the NCAA tournament before this year. Now it's one victory away from the Final Four after knocking off higher-seeded Oklahoma State, Alabama and Pittsburgh to stretch the country's longest winning streak to 21 games.

Antonio Gates scored 22 points and Trevor Huffman added 17 for the Golden Flashes, who made six straight free throws in the extra period against the Panthers (29-6).

''Our experience really paid off for us tonight. We never panicked,'' said Huffman, one of four seniors on the team. ''We're still trying to reach that perfect game. We don't want to stop here. We have a long way to go.''

Kent State plays fifth-seeded Indiana in Saturday's regional final. The Hoosiers upended defending national champion and top-seeded Duke 74-73.

Brandin Knight, the Big East's co-player of the year, and Julius Page each scored 18 for the Panthers, who were trying to reach the final eight for the first time since 1974.

''They played with poise down the stretch and we had to execute,'' said Kent State first-year coach Stan Heath, an assistant to Tom Izzo on Michigan State's 2000 national champions. ''We had to make big shots and we did it.''

Pitt came into the game with a reputation for stifling defense, but the Golden Flashes showed from the opening moments that they could put the clamps on, too.

Kent State forced 17 turnovers -- 11 in the first half -- and made it hard for Knight and Page to get open looks on the perimeter.

Knight tied the game at 66 with 52 seconds remaining in regulation. Following a Kent State turnover, Page's long 3 from the corner bounded off the rim as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to overtime.

Gates hit a jumper inside to open the extra period, and Ontario Lott matched it with a basket at the 4-minute mark.

Pitt went up 71-70 on Jaron Brown's free throw with 1:11 to play. From that point, Huffman made a high-banking layup off the glass, and Gates and Andrew Mitchell each added two free throws to push the margin to 76-71 with 21 seconds to play.

Mitchell, only 3-of-16 from the field for 12 points, added two more free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory.

But don't call Kent State a Cinderella team -- one sign in the stands said it all: ''We don't wear slippers ... we wear Nikes.''

Kent State led 29-23 at halftime, but Pitt soon closed the gap and eventually went up 45-43 on Donatas Zavackas' 3-pointer midway through the second half.

From that point, each team would surge ahead by two or three points, only to see the other recover and regain the lead.

Gates' jumper put Kent State up 59-53 with 5 1/2 minutes to play, but Knight's 3-pointer keyed a 7-0 run to put the Panthers up 60-59 with 3:35 remaining.

Down 66-62 at the 2-minute mark, Pittsburgh forced OT by shutting out Kent State the rest of regulation, while Page hit a layup and Knight scored inside to tie the game at 66.

Pitt's defense gave up just 60 points a game during the season and an average of only 52 in its tournament victories over Central Connecticut State and California.

Tough, physical defense by both teams led to a first half filled with missed shots and sloppy play.

Pitt turned the ball over six times and had only six field goal attempts in the first 8 minutes as Kent State jumped to a 15-10 lead.

The Golden Flashes, though, hit just five of 14 shots over that stretch. Huffman went 3-of-4, including a long 3-pointer.

For the half, the Panthers shot only 38 percent and turned the ball over 11 times after averaging only 11 turnovers in their previous two tournament victories.

Kent State shot just 33 percent but managed seven steals and scored nine points off Pitt turnovers in the half.



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