Minnesota (31-3) vs. Kentucky (34-4)

March 29, 1997|By Don Markus

What: NCAA tournament semifinal

Where: RCA Dome, Indianapolis

When: Tonight, 8: 17 p.m. or approximately 30 minutes after first game

TV: Ch. 13, 9

Latest line: Kentucky by 6 1/2

How they got here: Minnesota won the Big Ten for an automatic bid, then beat Southwest Texas, 78-46, and Temple, 76-57, in Midwest Regional at Kansas City; defeated Clemson, 90-84, in double overtime and UCLA, 80-72, at San Antonio; Kentucky received at at-large bid out of the SEC, then beat Montana, 92-54, and Iowa, 75-69, in West Regional at Salt Lake City; defeated St. Joseph's, 83-68, and Utah, 72-59, in San Jose, Calif.

Conference record: Minnesota finished 16-2 to win the Big Ten; Kentucky finished 15-3, second in the SEC East.

Ranking: Minnesota finished the season ranked No. 3, Kentucky was No. 5.

NCAA tournament record: Minnesota is 12-6 in seven NCAA tournament appearances; Kentucky is 76-34 in 39 appearances with 12 Final Four trips and six championships.

Coaches: Clem Haskins is 201-140 in 11 years at Minnesota, 302-213 in 17 seasons overall; Rick Pitino is 218-49 in eight years at Kentucky, 351-123 in 15 seasons overall.

Key matchups: Minnesota's Sam Jacobson vs. Kentucky's Ron Mercer. Mercer is probably too athletic for Jacobson. Minnesota's Bobby Jackson vs. Kentucky's Wayne Turner. Iowa's Andre Woolridge burned Turner for 29 points. Minnesota's John Thomas and Trevor Winter at center vs. Kentucky's Jamaal Magliore and Nazr Mohammed. What the Wildcats lack in experience they make up for in size and quickness.

What Minnesota needs to do to win: The Gophers must be able to handle Kentucky's defense, especially its press. They also need to finish their plays once they break the press.

What Kentucky needs to do to win: The Wildcats must keep it a full-court game, and must put a lot of pressure on injured Minnesota point guard Eric Harris, that way keeping Bobby Jackson from getting the ball.

Bottom line: If Harris' sprained shoulder is OK, it should be anyone's game. If not, the Wildcats can wear down Jackson and win going away.

Pub Date: 3/29/97

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