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COLLEGE BASKETBALL NCAA TOURNAMENT

The First Look

March 21, 1997|JIM RHODE

UCLA (24-7) vs. MINNESOTA (30-3)

Midwest Regional Final

at San Antonio

Saturday,12:40 p.m.

* MINNESOTA AT A GLANCE--The Golden Gophers won a survival-of-the-fittest Sweet 16 game against Clemson, defeating the Tigers, 90-84, in double overtime. There were 56 fouls in the game but the roughest play--point guard Eric Harris separating his shoulder when running into an apparent moving screen--was not called.

* UCLA AT A GLANCE--Play it again, Cameron. Dollar's last-second dash to the basket that defeated Iowa State, 74-73, in overtime Thursday was reminiscent of Tyus Edney's game-winning coast-to-coast score against Missouri that propelled UCLA to its national championship in 1995.

UCLA

PROBABLE STARTERS

F--Charles O'Bannon, 6-5, Sr.

F--J.R. Henderson, 6-9, Jr.

C--Jelani McCoy, 6-9 1/2, So.

G--Toby Bailey, 6-5, Jr.

G--Cameron Dollar, 5-11, Sr.

*

UCLA

KEY RESERVES

G/F--Kris Johnson, 6-3, Jr.

G--Brandon Loyd, 5-10, So.

F--Bob Myers, 6-7, Sr.

*

MINNESOTA

PROBABLE STARTERS

F--Courtney James, 6-8, So

F--Sam Jacobson, 6-6, Jr.

C--John Thomas, 6-9, Sr.

G--Eric Harris, 6-3, Jr.

G--Bobby Jackson, 6-1, Sr.

*

MINNESOTA

KEY RESERVES

G/F--Quincy Lewis, 6-7, So.

G--Charles Thomas, 6-4, So.

F--Miles Tarver, 6-8, So.

C--Trevor Winter, 7-0, Sr.

THE MATCHUPS

* GUARDS--While Iowa's Andre Woolridge became the first player to lead the Big Ten in scoring and assists the same season, Minnesota's Jackson showed why he was the conference's most valuable player in the victory over Clemson. Jackson scored 19 of his career-high 36 points after Harris was knocked out of the game and made the big play virtually every time the Gophers needed one. Harris, if he is able to play, and Jackson are as formidable a defensive duo as there is in college basketball. Dollar has become UCLA's money player.

* FORWARDS--Minnesota's success with its perimeter shooting is usually dictated by Jacobson, who made four of 12 three-point shots and had 29 points against Clemson. The plodding, physical style of the Gophers' other starting forward James (260 pounds) is a marked contrast to the grace and finesse of UCLA's Henderson and O'Bannon.

* CENTER--Minnesota's John Thomas and UCLA's McCoy are similar in that they lose their effectiveness once they stray, let's say, a foot from the basket. Thomas is not in the shot-blocking class of McCoy.

* INTANGIBLES--Six players on this UCLA team were members of the 1995 championship squad--with four playing significant roles (Bailey, Dollar, Henderson and O'Bannon). Minnesota last reached the round of eight in 1990.

* COACHING--Minnesota's Clem Haskins has gone nine deep with his roster, with his four key reserves averaging more than 12 minutes. UCLA is unbeaten since Steve Lavin had his interim tag removed.

* FINAL ANALYSIS--The possible loss of Harris figures to give Dollar all the room he needs to get the ball to Henderson and O'Bannon on the wings. They should be flying so high that Dollar won't be needed to go to the hole in crunch time again.

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