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NCAA COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

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East: Defense clamps down on Guyton and Pepperdine gets unexpected contribution from Sheppard in 77-57 victory over Indiana.

March 18, 2000|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Make way for the Waves.

Or was that a tsunami?

Pepperdine stormed Indiana, 77-57, with gale-force defense Friday night in an East Regional first-round game of the NCAA tournament before 19,338 at HSBC Arena.

It turns out that the whole time Hoosier Coach Bob Knight was answering allegations from former players and making 20-minute monologues, Pepperdine was preparing an ironclad game plan.

Take an early lead. Check. A 24-8 start will do.

Silence All-American guard A.J. Guyton. Check. He made zero field goals and took only two shots.

Establish Brandon Armstrong as an offensive force. Check. He scored 18 points in the first half and finished with 22.

Even the most ambitious plan could not have counted on the contribution of senior center Nick Sheppard, who came in averaging 8.8 points and wearing a reputation of an underachiever.

Sheppard had 17 points and eight rebounds, dominating inside while Armstrong and anybody else who took a three-point shot sparkled outside. The Waves made nine of 17 from long range.

Sheppard was helped by the absence of Hoosier center Kirk Haston, who left after two minutes because of a sprained knee. But even Knight downplayed the significance.

"The way we played and they played, Haston playing isn't going to make a difference in this game," Knight said. "We just got beat badly. We just got pounded."

Pepperdine (25-8), which matched the school record for victories, will face Oklahoma State (25-6) on Sunday. Not since 1982 have the Waves advanced past the first round.

"We executed the game plan extremely well," said Jan van Breda Kolff, Pepperdine's first-year coach. "We took the challenge of guarding Guyton and it went from there."

The Waves can savor not only a victory, but an awakening. Pepperdine, which has won 17 of its last 20, gained instant respect around the country.

"They seemed a step quicker than us in everything," Guyton said. "I think they can give Oklahoma State a good run."

Indiana lost its first-round game for the fourth time in the last six years. By the last few minutes, the red-clad Hoosier faithful were silent and catcalls had begun.

Good night, Knight.

"They changed their defenses well and played very aggressively," Knight said. "I was impressed."

How stifling was Pepperdine early? It took Indiana more than 10 minutes to reach 10 points.

The Waves, who had 13 steals in the game, made stops on 10 consecutive Hoosier possessions--eight missed shots and two turnovers--while extending their lead from 12-8 to 24-8. Their biggest lead of the half was 39-19 and Kelvin Gibbs' turnaround jump shot in the final seconds made the score 45-27 at the break.

"We shocked them with our intensity," Armstrong said. "We saw their faces go down and I knew we had them."

Guyton, who came in averaging 20.3 points, did not attempt a shot in the half until he misfired badly from three-point range with 1:52 left. He missed one more three-pointer in the second half.

Indiana missed all six three-point attempts and had only nine field goals in the half while shooting 29%. The Hoosiers made 11 of 21 in the second half but committed 13 turnovers to give them 21 in the game.

Armstrong made four three-pointers in the first 15 minutes, three from the same spot in the corner. He also created several shots by driving around his defender into the key.

The struggle continued for Indiana, which turned the ball over on its first four possessions of the second half and did not score in the first 4:05. Pepperdine also came out cold, missing its first 10 shots and not scoring until Sheppard's layup.

But because of strong defense, what could have been a disastrous stretch resulted in Indiana closing to within only 45-32.

Sheppard, who made eight of 12 shots and scored seven points in the first two minutes of the game, got the Waves on the board in the second half by making a layup on one of Tezale Archie's 11 assists. Sheppard followed that by sinking a 16-foot jump shot and Pepperdine was rolling again.

"Given the magnitude of the situation, this was Nick's best game of the season," Van Breda Kolff said. "They were extending on defense and denying on the wing. That left Nick open and he had a great game."

The Waves scored 10 in a row to build a 59-38 advantage on a turnaround shot by Sheppard, but didn't stop there. Reserve Craig Lewis, who missed his only shot in the first half, made two three-pointers and finished a fastbreak with a layup to make the score 64-41 with 8:12 to play.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

GAME BREAKDOWN

MOST POINTS

PEPPERDINE

Brandon Armstrong, 22

INDIANA

Kyle Hornsby, 15

MOST REBOUNDS

PEPPERDINE

Nick Sheppard, 8

INDIANA

Jeffrey Newton, 9

MOST ASSISTS

PEPPERDINE

Tezale Archie, 11

INDIANA

Newton, Michael Lewis, 3

BY THE NUMBERS

18: Years since Pepperdine has advanced to second round in NCAA.

.290: Indiana's field-goal percentage in the first half (9-31)

21: Turnovers by Indiana

3: Points scored by A.J. Guyton, the Big-10's co-player of the year

4: Times in last six years that Indiana has lost in the first round

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