East Regional

Ncaa Men's Tournament

March 26, 2000|By Kent Baker

Today's championship game

No. 3 Oklahoma State (27-6) vs. No. 5 Florida (27-7)

Site: Syracuse, N.Y.

Time: 5 p.m.

Line: Florida by 2

Conference records: Oklahoma State was tied for third in the Big 12 at 12-4. Lost to Iowa State in conference tournament. Florida was 12-4 in the Southeastern Conference and shared the regular-season title. Lost to Auburn in SEC tournament.

Coaches: Eddie Sutton is 229-94 in 10 seasons at Oklahoma State, 659-258 overall. Billy Donovan is 78-48 in four seasons at Florida and 111-68 overall.

Starting lineups: Oklahoma State: PG Doug Gottlieb (6.1 ppg, 8.7 apg); G Joe Adkins (11.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg); C Fredrik Jonzen (9.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg); F Desmond Mason (18.2 ppg, 6.7 ppg); F Brian Montonati (12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg). Florida: PG Justin Hamilton (4.7 ppg, 1.3 apg); G Teddy Dupay (9.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg); C Udonis Haslem (11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg); F Mike Miller (14.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg); F Brent Wright 8.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg).

Bench strength: Jonzen has been battling the flu, and if he is unable to go, the Cowboys' depth will be tested. Glendon Alexander (11.6 ppg) is a major player in reserve for a team that normally goes eight deep. Donovan relies extensively on 10 players. The major figures off the bench are G Kenyan Weaks (10.4 ppg) and C Donnell Harvey (10.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg), but freshman G Brett Nelson had a big game (15 points) in the semis.

Key matchup: Jonzen against Haslem and Harvey. The Cowboys' center has been strong of late, but if illness slows him, Florida's middle men could be highly effective.

What Oklahoma State needs to do to win: Maintain the composure it had in weathering Pepperdine's frenzied defense. The Cowboys mostly want to play a half-court game. With so many veterans, they probably will be calm even if things don't go their way early. An edge on the backboards is also vital.

What Florida needs to do to win: Don't deviate from the style that carried the team this far and try to force Oklahoma State into lofting shots it doesn't prefer to take. As against Duke, the Gators must use their depth to wear out the opponent's legs for the late going. Florida forces the ball into the hands of players least equipped to handle the pressure.

Bottom line: Tempo is crucial to the Cowboys, who want to play a half-court game and run selectively. If they can break down the press often enough and Jonzen is completely healthy, they have a chance to uphold their No. 3 seeding. If not, Florida could pull away in the final minutes again.

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