South final

March 23, 2002|By Ken Murray

No. 5 Indiana (23-11) vs. No. 10 Kent State (30-5)

Site: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

Time: 7 tonight

Conference records: Indiana went 11-5 in the Big Ten to share in a four-way tie for first place. Kent State went 17-1 to dominate the Mid-American Conference.

Coaches: Mike Davis is 44-24 in two seasons at Indiana. Stan Heath is 30-5 in his first season at Kent State.

Indiana's lineup: G Tom Coverdale (12.2 ppg, .796 FT pct., 4.8 apg), G Dane Fife (8.5 ppg, .460 3-PT pct.), F Kyle Hornsby (7.3 ppg, .431 3-PT pct.), F Jared Jeffries (15.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, .458 FG pct.), C Jarrad Odle (9.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, .555 FG pct.).

Kent State's lineup: G Trevor Huffman (16.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, .394 3-PT pct.), G Andrew Mitchell (15.1 ppg, 3.3 apg), G Demetric Shaw (7.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg), F Antonio Gates (15.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, .517 FG pct.), C Nate Gerwig (4.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, .681 FG pct.).

Bench strength: Indiana has key reserves in G A.J. Moye and F Jeff Newton. Moye is a clutch player down the stretch, especially from the foul line, and Newton is a 6-foot-9 force inside. Donald Perry helps in the backcourt. Kent State, with a three-guard lineup, counters with F Eric Thomas and 7-0 C John Edwards. Thomas played 31 minutes in the semifinal.

Key matchup: Kent State's front line against Indiana's Jeffries and Odle, who combined for 39 points against Duke. The Golden Flashes may rely on 6-5 Antonio Gates' bulk or 6-9 Nate Gerwig's height to challenge the 6-10 Jeffries.

What Indiana needs to do to win: The Hoosiers should take the ball inside to Jeffries and Odle, just as they did with increasing success against Duke. Indiana wore down Duke and figures to do the same against Kent State.

What Kent State needs to do to win: Take advantage of the guard matchups, especially with Huffman and Mitchell, and on defense force Indiana into another ragged offensive performance.

Bottom line: Both teams are tough and resilient. Both were extended on Thursday - Indiana with its comeback and Kent State with a late night overtime. Both have been underappreciated. Unless Kent State finds a way to contain Jeffries, Indiana could be moving on to Atlanta. But the Golden Flashes have an aura of Final Four destiny.

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