Stanford, Purdue pull plug on challenges with power Best two seeds push their way into Sweet 16

Midwest at Chicago

March 16, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- For Western Michigan, the hope was that its three-guard offense would help negate the post play of third-seeded Stanford.

And Detroit had the same thoughts, figuring that high-scoring guard Derrick Hayes leading its three-guard attack would be able to keep the Titans in their game against second-seeded Purdue.

The lesson learned by the upset-minded teams yesterday at the United Center: Size matters.

Stanford used a dominant performance from its front line in its 83-65 win over Western Michigan, helping the Cardinal advance to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season. And that performance was almost mirrored by Purdue, as the Boilermakers were in command from start to finish in an 80-65 win over Detroit.

So in a topsy-turvy Midwest region where Rhode Island (eighth seed) and Valparaiso (13th seed) will meet Friday in St. Louis, the two highest seeds here prevailed. No. 3 Stanford will meet face No. 2 Purdue, with the winner having what appears to be an excellent shot at the Final Four.

"It feels great because our team has taken the lumps over the past four years," said Purdue coach Gene Keady, whose team had been eliminated in the second round the past three years. "It's great to see the kids grow and develop."

Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said: "We've advanced as far as we ever have. We've got a week to prepare and we're excited about the challenge."

In advancing to the regional semifinals for the second consecutive season, Stanford's game against Western Michigan was -- for the most part -- as tough as anticipated. The Cardinal trailed by as many as seven late in the first half but had a three-point halftime lead after point guard Arthur Lee scored eight of his 12 first-half points in the final 47 seconds. Lee, a 6-foot junior, was thought to have his hands full against the Western Michigan guards. But his spurt began with back-to-back three-pointers, and ended with an 11-foot jumper at the buzzer for a 42-39 lead.

"I had to do something. I felt like I was letting my team down early," Lee said. "I started feeling it a little bit and the shots were going down. It carried over -- that helped us going into the second half."

And it became obvious early in the second half, when Stanford began pounding the ball inside, that size would be a factor. Both Shaun Jackson and Brad Timmeren -- two key front-line players -- picked up their fourth fouls just more than four minutes into the half. By game's end, Stanford's 7-1 center Tim Young had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and 6-8 power forward Mark Madsen had 19 points and 10 rebounds. They combined to hit 16 of 20 shots, and were largely responsible for the 41-25 rebounding edge.

"They really wore us out," guard Saddi Washington said.

Any chance Western Michigan had ended when guard Rashod Johnson, who had 32 points in the opening-round win over Clemson, picked up his fifth foul on a technical with 12: 03 left. Johnson grab the ball and appeared to let out a yell after teammate Isaac Bullock fouled Young under the basket.

The official closest to Johnson said nothing. But an official at half-court called the technical -- thus ending the night of Johnson, who may have been penalized for arguing what he thought was a foul on his shot attempt seconds before. The whole sequence turned into a seven-point play and the Broncos, who trailed by seven at the time of the foul -- and 14 by the end of the sequence -- never recovered.

"He said it wasn't what I said, he said he didn't like my reaction," Johnson said.

In the second game Purdue had a 28-11 lead with six minutes left in the half and appeared on the verge of duplicating its 95-56 thrashing of Delaware on Friday. The blowout never occurred but Purdue, while balanced with four starters in double figures, had a front-court edge that resulted in a 39-15 scoring advantage and a 28-11 rebounding advantage over Detroit.

"They bump and they're physical, yet we only got to the line 10 times," Detroit coach Perry Watson said. "They're not only physical in the post, but all their kids have good strong bodies. In the NCAA tournament, officials let you play a little bit and that's to their advantage."

That physical play by Purdue played a big part in Detroit shooting just 41.7 percent for the game, although the Titans had open shots that simply didn't fall. Aside from the size advantage, the real key was Purdue -- particularly 6-2 guard Chad Austin. He did not allow Hayes to get going. Hayes, who scored a season-high 27 points on Friday against St. John's, scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting (his previous season low was five points against Butler on Jan. 17).

"Chad played a great defensive game on me by not letting me catch the ball in my comfort zone," Hayes said. "Along with them being physical out there, it really hampered our offense and took us out of our game a little bit."

And that was the difference yesterday, size and the ability to play physical that helped two major programs stave off upset bids -- in a tournament of upsets -- by a couple of mid-majors.

Neither the players from Stanford nor Purdue celebrated much after their respective victories yesterday. Each school clearly has bigger goals set, and now the two stand in each other's way.

"We got sick of getting beat in the second round, and now we're [in the Sweet 16]," said Purdue center Brad Miller, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds. "That may have been in the back of our minds. But we're not satisfied in just getting into the Sweet 16."

Midwest champs

Five of the past 10 men's champions advanced from the Midwest Regional to the NCAA title game and four won the championship:

Year, Champion

1996, Kentucky

1995, Arkansas-*

1994, Arkansas

1991, Duke

1988, Kansas

*-runner-up to UCLA

Pub Date: 3/16/98

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