No. 10 Texas (17-11) vs. No. 15 Coppin State (22-8): NCAA TOUTNAMENT

March 16, 1997|By Jerry Bembry

What: Second round, NCAA East Regional

Where: Pittsburgh Civic Arena

When: Today, approximately 4: 50 p.m.

TV: Ch. 13

How they got here: Coppin got an automatic bid to the tournament as the champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and advanced to the second round by defeating second seed South Carolina, 78-65, on Friday. Texas, an at-large team, advanced to the second round with Friday's 71-58 win over seventh-seeded Wisconsin.

Conference record: Coppin was 15-3 in the MEAC, including the conference tournament, and won the regular-season championship; Texas was 10-7 in the Big 12 and lost to Missouri in the first round of the conference tournament.

Ranking: Neither team is ranked.

NCAA tournament record: Coppin is 1-2. Texas is 15-18, and has appeared in the tournament for four straight years. The Longhorns have reached the Final Four twice (1943, 1947) and the final eight three times, most recently in 1990.

Coaches: Fang Mitchell is 205-119 in 11 years at Coppin. Tom Penders is 193-92 in nine years at Texas, and 463-301 in 26 years overall.

Key matchups: Coppin forward Reggie Welch against Reggie Freeman, the Texas small forward who scored 31 points in the opening round. Also, Coppin center Terquin Mott against the center combination of Sheldon Quarles and Dennis Jordan of Texas. Quarles and Jordan share time equally in the center spot, but neither is considered a dominant player.

What Coppin has to do to win: Get a lot of help to contain Freeman, who is more of a scorer than a shooter (he shoots 38.7 percent). Also, try not to get into a track meet with the Longhorns, who prefer the fast-break style that has produced 76.8 points per game. The Eagles may face a tougher press than the one they saw Friday against South Carolina. Coppin's key is to handle the pressure, making the job of point guard Danny Singletary important. Coppin can ill afford foul trouble against a team that goes nine deep.

What Texas has to do to win: Don't underestimate the Eagles. The Longhorns won with relative ease against a plodding Wisconsin team. Coppin has athletes who can compete with the Longhorns. Freeman has to play well, since the Longhorns tend to follow his lead.

Bottom line: Again, Coppin has to like its chances facing a team that does not have a dominant front line. The Eagles don't have the bodies to bang with big teams. Coppin won Friday despite a subpar game from Mott, who is at times good and at times operating on a different agenda from his teammates. If Mott comes to play, and if Singletary and Antoine Brockington continue their solid play, the Sweet 16 is not out of reach.

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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