West Regional final

March 22, 1997|By Ken Murray

At San Jose, Calif.

No. 1 Kentucky (33-4) vs. No. 2 Utah (29-3)

Time: 6 p.m. today

TV: Chs. 13, 9

Line: Kentucky by 7 1/2

How they got here: Kentucky beat Montana, 92-54; Iowa, 75-69; and St. Joe's, 83-68. Utah beat Navy, 75-61; North Carolina-Charlotte, 77-58; and Stanford, 82-77, in overtime.

Conference records: Kentucky was 16-3 and won the the Southeastern Conference tournament. Utah was 18-1 and won the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

Rankings: Utah is No. 2 in AP poll, Kentucky is No. 5.

NCAA tournament records: Kentucky is 75-34 with six national championships. Utah is 25-21 and in the Elite Eight for the first time.

Coaches: Rick Pitino is 217-49 in eight seasons at Kentucky, and 350-123 in 15 seasons overall. Rick Majerus is 180-54 in eight seasons at Utah, and 279-106 in 13 seasons overall.

Key matchups: Whichever guard Pitino puts at the point -- Anthony Epps or Wayne Turner -- will have his hands full against Utah's Andre Miller, who is coming off a bizarre 19-point, 11-turnover game against Stanford. Kentucky's Ron Mercer and Utah's Keith Van Horn are both first-team All-Americans. Kentucky has another problem in defending 6-foot-11 Michael Doleac with 6-9 Jared Prickett. The Wildcats' Nazr Mohammed may play a key inside role off the bench.

What Kentucky needs to do to win: Keep Mercer out of foul trouble, which means the Wildcats might play a lot of zone. They also need to disrupt Miller's game with the press, and they must get their share of second shots.

What Utah needs to do to win: Keep Kentucky out of the transition game and protect the ball better than it did against Stanford. Van Horn, erratic beyond the arc in the tournament, must break out of his three-point shooting slump.

Bottom line: The Utes haven't forgotten last year's 101-70 loss to Kentucky in a Midwest semifinal, a loss that won't help their confidence. Utah needs to play its best game to beat the defending champs.

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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