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Chance at the Final Four Soothes Aches and Pains

March 22, 1997|JASON REID

Bumps and bruises are part of the game this time of year, and Utah and Kentucky have their share. But with the NCAA West Regional title on the line today at San Jose, it's time to play with pain.

Ron Mercer, Kentucky's All-American forward, has a sore back. Andre Miller, Utah's starting point guard, has a swollen right hand.

But just try to stop them from playing with a spot in the Final Four at stake.

"I've tried not to think about it since I've been in the tournament," Mercer said of his back. "I have to be out there to help my teammates."

Said Miller, "I can't make a fist right now--but I'm going to play."

But Miller's injury--he jammed his hand on the basket support Thursday--could cause problems.

The right-handed Miller committed a season-high 11 turnovers against Stanford, in part because of his injury. However, Utah Coach Rick Majerus wasn't especially concerned.

"We wouldn't play him if this was something that could cause him problems [in the future]," Majerus said.

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