Mad finishes complete lineup for college basketball finals Kentucky, Stanford stage late comebacks

Onward To Final Four

Ncaa Tournament

March 23, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Still wondering why it's called March Madness?

The Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament was completed yesterday, with Stanford and Kentucky joining Saturday's winners, North Carolina and Utah, in the national semi- finals.

And as if Valparaiso's unlikely spot in the Sweet 16 or Rhode Island's run to a regional final weren't enough, there was the way that yesterday's victors advanced.

Kentucky rallied from an 18-point deficit, then survived a last-second shot by Duke, the South Regional top seed, for an 86-84 victory.

Even before yesterday's game, the talk was about the last time Kentucky and Duke had met, in a 1992 regional final, won by the Blue Devils on Christian Laettner's buzzer-beater. Freshman William Avery had a chance to duplicate the feat, but his running 30-footer missed as time expired.

"We didn't worry about 1992 at the end of the game," said Scott Padgett, whose three-pointer put Kentucky, the No. 2 seed in the South, ahead by three points with 40 seconds left. "We were worried only about playing good defense."

In the Midwest Regional final, Stanford, seeded third, trailed No. 8 seed Rhode Island by six points with 59 seconds remaining, but thanks mainly to point guard Arthur Lee, Stanford rallied for a 79-77 victory.

Lee's steal led to Mark Madsen's three-point play with 26.2 seconds left to give Stanford the lead for good. Lee clinched the victory with two free throws with 4.2 seconds left.

"These guys (Rhode Island) deserved to win. They deserved to go on," Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick said of his team, his first at Rhode Island after leading UCLA to the 1995 national championship. "Stanford took our heart and cut it right out."

Final Four

When: Saturday, first game at 5: 42 p.m.

Where: San Antonio

Who: North Carolina (34-3) vs. Utah (29-3); Kentucky (33-4) vs. Stanford (30-4)

Championship: Monday, 9: 18 p.m.

` TV: Channels 13, 9

Pub Date: 3/23/98

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