Maryland vs. Kentucky

NCAA Tournament

March 22, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht

The game

What: NCAA tournament East Regional semifinal

Site: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

Time: 10:03 p.m. (approx.)

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Maryland by 6

The teams

Maryland: 28-4, Atlantic Coast Conference champions at 15-1; 19th NCAA appearance.

Kentucky: 22-9, fourth in the Southeastern Conference at 10-6; 43rd NCAA appearance.

The frontcourts

Kentucky has an outstanding player in forward Tayshaun Prince, who is coming off a 41-point effort against Tulsa and has been its leading scorer all season. But forward Chuck Hayes and center Jules Camara have been inconsistent, especially as rebounders. Maryland's threesome of Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox and Byron Mouton have been consistent scoring and rebounding threats.

Edge: Maryland

The backcourts

Keith Bogans and point guard Cliff Hawkins need to play great games to upset the Terps, and Bogans is finally on a roll after a disappointing regular season. But Hawkins, at 6 feet 1, will have his hands full against 6-3 Steve Blake, especially when Hawkins tries to get into the flow as a scoring threat. Bogans needs to do something about Juan Dixon, who is averaging 29 points in the tourney.

Edge: Maryland

Benches

Maryland junior guard Drew Nicholas continues to make big shots and be the team's most versatile player, and center Ryan Randle and forward Tahj Holden bring 500 more pounds of beef to the paint. Randle has become excellent insurance in case Baxter gets into foul trouble. Kentucky guards Gerald Fitch and Rashaad Carruth are averaging 15 points combined. Forward Marquis Estill must help tonight.

Edge: Even.

Coaches

A year after advancing beyond the Sweet 16 and reaching the Final Four for the first time, Maryland's Gary Williams has his talented, experienced team tuned up for a final push. Kentucky's Tubby Smith remains one of the best in the game, having won a national title after replacing Rick Pitino, and he has somehow kept this messy team together.

Edge: Kentucky.

Keys to victory

Kentucky cannot simply depend on Prince and Bogans to carry them into the Elite Eight. The Wildcats need their bench to step up, and they need an unlikely hero such as Hawkins or Camara. Maryland needs to take advantage of its pronounced edge at point guard and up front. The Terps also must be mindful of covering the wings and limiting the Wildcats' outside shooting. Bottom line

It's hard to envision Prince or Bogans getting open enough to do major damage. It's hard to envision Maryland not hitting the floor with an all-out effort from the opening tip-off. The Terps have too many weapons and are too mature to let this slip away. Barring an exceptional shooting night by the Wildcats, Maryland is moving on.

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