South Regional

March 24, 2000|By Paul McMullen

Tonight's semifinals

No. 6 Miami (23-10) vs. No. 7 Tulsa (31-4)

Site: Austin, Texas

Time: 7: 55

Line: Tulsa by 4

Conference records: Miami went 13-3 and shared the regular-season title in the Big East, then lost to St. John's in the semifinals of the conference tournament; Tulsa topped the Western Athletic Conference with a 12-2 record, but lost to Fresno State in the conference tournament.

Coaches: Leonard Hamilton is 144-146 in 10 seasons at Miami, 200-209 in 14 seasons overall. Bill Self is 73-26 in three seasons at Tulsa, 129-79 in seven seasons overall.

Starting lineups: Miami: PG Vernon Jennings (7.8 ppg, 6.8 apg, 4.1 rpg); SG Johnny Hemsley (18.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg); SF John Salmons (9.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg); PF Elton Tyler (10.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg); C Mario Bland (12.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg). Tulsa: PG Greg Harrington (10.9 ppg, 3.0 apg); G Tony Heard (9.7 ppg, 3.4 apg); G Marcus Hill (11.1 ppg, 4.3 apg); PF Eric Coley (11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.5 apg); C Brandon Kurtz (11.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg).

Bench strength: Tulsa's leading scorer happens to be sixth man David Shelton, a 6-6 junior who's averaging 14.0 points and 4.6 rebounds. Miami's bench goes four-deep, as Hamilton has gotten good mileage out of forwards Leroy Hurd, James Jones and Dwayne Wimbley.

Key matchup: In Hemsley, Miami has something that Tulsa does not, a scorer capable of taking over a game. Self will probably try to slow the senior out of Baltimore's Southern High with Hill and Shelton.

What Miami needs to do to win: Show up in Fresno State uniforms, the only sight that has frightened Tulsa this season. Three of its four losses were to Fresno State, by a total of five points. Miami needs to handle Tulsa's pressure defense, and in Jennings and Hemsley, it has perimeter players who have proven themselves in the crucible of the Big East.

What Tulsa needs to do to win: It must slow Hemsley, and make a better percentage of its shots than Miami.

Bottom line: Neither team has ever gotten to a regional final, and both are a win away thanks to defensive backbone. Miami's field-goal percentage defense is 39.3, while Tulsa's is 39.2.

No. 4 Tennessee (26-6) vs. No. 8 North Carolina (20-13)

Site: Austin, Texas

Time: 10: 15

TV: Chs. 13, 9

Line: Tennessee by 1

Conference records: Tennessee went 12-4 and shared the regular-season title in the Southeastern Conference, but lost to South Carolina in its SEC tournament opener; North Carolina went 9-7 and finished in a third-place tie in the Atlantic Coast Conference, then lost its tournament opener to Wake Forest.

Coaches: Jerry Green is 67-24 in three seasons at Tennessee, 289-202 in 17 seasons overall; Bill Guthridge is 78-27 in three seasons at North Carolina.

Starting lineups: Tennessee: PG Tony Harris (14.9 ppg, 4.1 apg); SG Jon Higgins (6.3 ppg, 3.1 apg); SF Vincent Yarbrough (14.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg); PF Isiah Victor (9.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg); C C.J. Black (9.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg). North Carolina: PG Ed Cota (10.3 ppg, 8.3 apg); SG Joe Forte (16.2 ppg); SF Jason Capel (12.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg); PF Kris Lang (8.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg); C Brendan Haywood (13.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg).

Bench strength: Ron Slay and Marcus Haislip, two big freshmen, will have to play considerable minutes if Tennessee is to neutralize North Carolina's suddenly resurgent inside game. Injuries have thinned North Carolina, but football lineman Julius Peppers has given it another rebounder.

Key matchup: Harris and Cota had their downs in 1999, the former for being critical of his program and the latter for an arrest that put his in a bad light. Harris is a scorer and Cota a distributor.

What Tennessee needs to do to win: Put the shackles on Haywood again. ACC teams knew how to take the 7-footer out of a game, but he had 40 points and 23 rebounds in wins over Missouri and Stanford.

What North Carolina needs to do to win: Keep playing up to its potential. The Tar Heels don't mind running, but they also don't have Tennessee's depth. A slower pace would serve them well.

Bottom line: No longer burdened by an underachieving regular season, North Carolina is playing with what Cota said was "a greater sense of urgency." The Tar Heels are used to being here, while it's the Vols' first Sweet 16 appearance since 1981.

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