Auburn manages to escape in spite of its team manager

Move by Tigers' Harris nearly backfires after Tolbert commits turnover

Midwest Regional notebook

Ncaa Tournament

March 17, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Maybe someone should remind Auburn coach Cliff Ellis where nice guys usually finish.

Ellis inserted his second-year team manager, Jimbo Tolbert, into the final seconds of yesterday's Midwest Regional first-round game and his sentimental gesture nearly backfired. Tolbert committed a turnover in his 15 seconds of fame that allowed Creighton to close to within three points before Auburn secured the 72-69 victory at the Metrodome.

"Jimbo made one mistake," Ellis said. "There were other mistakes."

Tolbert walked onto the court for the first time in his career with 21.2 seconds left and the seventh-seeded Tigers ahead, 70-63. The sophomore guard made an impact immediately -- for No. 10 Creighton.

After the Bluejays cut the margin to 72-66, Tolbert turned the ball over on an inbounds play with 6.5 seconds remaining, and Ellis yanked him.

Off that turnover, Creighton's Terrell Taylor hit a three-pointer to reduce the deficit to 72-69, before the Bluejays' final shot was blocked.

Tolbert dressed for the first time yesterday and became the first manager ever to be added to the roster. He had practiced as part of the scout team during different parts of the season because injuries to three players and the suspension of All-America forward Chris Porter limited Ellis' options.

So, does Ellis have any regrets for using Tolbert?

"No, it worked out," Ellis said. "It's something we'll talk about for a long time. That's March Madness."

Taking cover

Maryland improved its career record in domes to 4-0.

The Terps have reached 25 wins for the fifth time in school history and are now 22-17 in the NCAA tournament. They have won three straight in the NCAA tournament's first round, where they are 12-2 all-time.

Double play

In his first postseason appearance in the Twin Cities, Maryland's Terence Morris worked double time, reaching a double double with 1: 37 left in the first half. Morris had 12 points and 10 rebounds at that time, matching Iona's rebounding total as a team.

It's the fourth consecutive double double for Morris, who has 12 in 33 games this season.

Waiting game

Central Connecticut center Corsley Edwards had prepared to battle Iowa State's Marcus Fizer, but he will remember his first NCAA tournament game as a bigger test of his patience.

The Lake Clifton graduate played only 19 minutes because of foul trouble and sat on the bench as the 15th-seeded Blue Devils rallied from 19 points to tie No. 2 Iowa State at 69 with 6: 15 left.

"I know it's wrong to do, but I thought back to the fouls I committed that I shouldn't have," said Edwards, who finished with 13 points and five rebounds. "It's very disappointing to be watching my team. But I was happy for them. I was jumping up and down."

Although Edwards returned to score seven points in eight second-half minutes, he threw an errant pass with two minutes remaining that helped the Cyclones win, 88-78.

Fast breaks

On facing Iona coach and former Washington Bullet, Jeff Ruland, Maryland coach Gary Williams said, "I tell them about Jeff Ruland, but I might as well talk about Dr. Naismith." Maryland was the only team among the eight here not to start a senior. UCLA's Dan Gadzuric had his left thumb heavily wrapped after injuring it in Wednesday's practice, but it didn't seem to affect him. He finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes. The Bruins assisted on 19 of their 25 baskets (76 percent). Maryland forward Tahj Holden started for only the third time, replacing Danny Miller (ankle injury). It's only the fourth time in 34 games that the Terps have altered their starting lineup. The Terps, who turned the ball over twice in their first 19 possessions, had nine in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Maryland had 10 second-chance points in the first half, while shutting out Iona in that category. Only a third of the crowd from the afternoon session returned by the Maryland-Iona tip-off. Fizer recorded 27 points and 11 rebounds for his eighth double double of the season and moves within 20 points of Iowa State's single-season scoring mark (811 points by Jeff Grayer in 1987-88). Iowa State fans composed over a third of the crowd in the afternoon session. Auburn raised its record to 20-2 when it leads at halftime. The Tigers, who convert only an average of 6.5 three-pointers, set a school NCAA tournament record with 11 from behind the arc.

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