East Regional

Ncaa Tournament

March 22, 2001|By DON MARKUS

Tonight's semifinals

Site: First Union Center, Philadelphia

No. 6 USC (23-9) vs. No. 2 Kentucky (24-9)

Time: 7:38

Conference records: USC was 11-7 in the Pac-10. Kentucky was 12-4 in the SEC.

Coaches: Henry Bibby is 90-66 in five years at USC. Tubby Smith is 110-32 in four years at Kentucky, 234-94 in 10 years overall.

USC's lineup: The Trojans are an experienced group with three juniors and two seniors, including fifth-year senior Brian Scalabrine. The front line is wide -- Scalabrine goes 6-9, 250, with David Bluthenthal at 6-7, 220 and Sam Clancy at 6-7, 240. Clancy, the son and namesake of the former NFL defensive end, leads the Trojans in scoring (17.3 ppg) and has blocked a school single-season record 73 shots. Senior guard Jeff Trepagnier is USC's most explosive player, while point guard Brandon Granville holds the school record for assists (580). Perhaps the most interesting player is Bluthenthal, who hit 57 threes this year.

Kentucky's lineup: The Wildcats are a lot more athletic, and they might have to make up for a lack of size and bulk inside with their overall quickness. The Trojans are quite familiar with Kentucky star Tayshaun Prince, who grew up in Los Angeles. Prince (17.2) is mostly an outside threat, as evidenced by the six threes he threw in against Holy Cross in the first round. Former DeMatha star Keith Bogans (16.8) likes to bomb away from the outside as well. The Wildcats also start two freshman, center Jason Parker and guard Gerald Fitch, but both have been inconsistent. Senior guard Saul Smith, the coach's son, is steady, but doesn't make a lot of plays.

Bench strength: USC goes about three deep on the bench, with freshman guard Desmon Farmer getting about 20 minutes a game during the season, but less in the tournament. Sophomore guard Robert Hutchinson backs up Granville, and has made only seven turnovers in 213 minutes. He also hit some big free throws to help beat Boston College last week. Senior Jarvis Turner is the team's only frontcourt reserve. He scored 13 points in 19 minutes against UCLA and 10 points in 14 minutes against Arizona. Kentucky sophomore forward Marquis Estill scored a career-high 22 points in 22 minutes against Holy Cross, and former starting center Marvin Stone is also capable of making some solid contributions in scoring and rebounding.

Key matchup: It will come down to who can guard Prince. Given his quickness, it's doubtful that Bluthenthal can stay with the Kentucky forward. Given the fact that Prince is 6-9, it's unlikely that Trepagnier can guard him for long stretches at 6-4.

What USC has to do to win: The Trojans have to try to keep Kentucky from running, like they did effectively last week against BC. They also have to hit their threes, something they did only eight of 24 times in their first two games but might need tonight to stay close.

What Kentucky has to do to win: Keep out of foul trouble, especially with their inside players. The Wildcats must take advantage of the matchup with Prince, and keep feeding a player who has carried them with 58 points in two tournament games.

Bottom line: If Prince stays hot, the Trojans will be going home.

No. 4 UCLA (23-8) vs. No. 1 Duke (31-4)

Time: 10:08 approximate.

Conference records: UCLA finished 14-4 in the Pac-10. Duke finished 13-3 in the ACC.

Coaches: Steve Lavin is 114-46 in five seasons at UCLA. Mike Krzyzewski is 529-164 in 20 years at Duke, 602-225 in 25 years overall.

UCLA's lineup: The Bruins have good balance among their starters, four of whom average in double figures. Sophomore forward Jason Kapono (17.4 ppg) is a terrific long-range shooter whose 45.5 three-point shot percentage ranked 11th in the country. If he can extend Duke's defense, then point guard Earl Watson will have more room to operate and get the ball inside to 6-11 center Dan Gadzuric, who might force the Blue Devils to go more to returning center Carlos Boozer more than they'd like. Forward Matt Barnes scored 32 against Stanford this year while guard Billy Knight has scored in double figures in five of his team's last seven games.

Duke's lineup: The Blue Devils have the two best players in the country in forward Shane Battier and point guard Jason Williams. Both can be stopped, but neither has been of late. Sophomore forward Mike Dunleavy played well last week in Greensboro, N.C., a carryover to a career-high 24 points he scored in the ACC Tournament final against North Carolina and the 15 he had against Maryland in the semifinals. Sophomore center Casey Sanders has started to make a contribution, but with Boozer back, he won't have to do as much. Freshman guard Chris Duhon could be the most improved player in the country the past month.

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