Tulsa's golden vs. Miami

Golden Hurricane moves to South final with 80-71 win

March 25, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

AUSTIN, Texas -- Stop Johnny Hemsley.

That order was high on Tulsa's checklist heading into last night's NCAA tournament South Regional semifinal against Miami.

Hemsley, the senior guard out of Baltimore's Southern High, had shot the Hurricanes to one of their best seasons ever, and Tulsa coach Bill Self was determined to make someone else beat him.

Seventh-seeded Tulsa limited Hemsley's touches and moved into its first regional final with an 80-71 victory over Miami at the Erwin Center.

The Golden Hurricane (32-4) will meet North Carolina, which beat Tennessee, in tomorrow's South Regional championship.

That survivor will meet the East titlist in the national semifinals in Indianapolis a week from today.

This game was a carbon copy of Tulsa's second-round win over second-seeded Cincinnati. The Golden Hurricane asserted itself early with a 16-0 run that got its lead up to 25-8. Sixth-seeded Miami (23-11) chipped away and took a 46-43 lead with less than 11 minutes left, but Tulsa scored the next eight points and never looked back.

Center Brandon Kurtz scored all 17 of his points in the second half for Tulsa, and also collected a game-high 10 rebounds.

Wing Eric Coley also had 17 points for the champions of the Western Athletic Conference and was the primary defender on Hemsley, who had 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting. It was his second-lowest shot total of the season.

"He's a key player for them," said Coley, whose 39 rebounds in four games lead the tournament. "We knew that we had to contain him and take him out of his game. That was Coach's strategy. We pretty much wore him out, rotating fresh guys on him."

Hemsley, a second-team All-Big East Conference selection, finished his career with 1,497 points, seventh best in Hurricanes history. Self placed 6-foot-2 sophomore Greg Harrington on Hemsley at the start. Coley, a rugged yet sleek 6-5 senior, then took a turn marking him. Dante Swanson, a 5-10 freshman, and 6-5 junior Marcus Hill took shifts on Hemsley in the second half, before the versatile Coley finished the job.

Hemsley's frustration was evident throughout the game.

Coley came from behind and blocked him in the eighth minute. Coming off a screen, Hemsley was decked by 230-pound Eric Shelton, and didn't get the foul call he wanted. After he was charged with his second foul early in the second half, Hemsley physically showed official Gerald Boudreaux how he was getting cross-checked.

"Give Tulsa a lot of credit," Hemsley said. "They made it tough for me to get open. That's what I've been dealing with all year. When I tried to go in the lane, somebody would bump me and knock me off my path. They did a good job of getting in my way."

"They had more energy than us," said Miami coach Leonard Hamilton, whose team allowed 80 points for the first time in 2000. "Our players said in the locker room this was the quickest team we played all season."

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