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NCAA COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | TODAY'S REGIONALS

West Bracket

March 18, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE

AT TUCSON

* Oklahoma vs. Purdue--We know which team slept better between rounds. Oklahoma looked dominating in a 24-point first-round win over Winthrop, making 10 of 21 three-point attempts on a day when star player Eduardo Najera scored only 10 points in 28 minutes after being saddled with foul trouble. The Sooner defense put a choke hold on Winthrop, holding the Eagles to 27% shooting (15 of 56). Purdue closed its eyes and survived a 62-61 first-round win over Dayton, but there was a bit of encouraging news. Guards Jaraan Cornell and Carson Cunningham, who went a combined one for 12 in the team's first-round loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament, each made three three-point shots in the win over Dayton. Cornell had been in a season-long slump. The matchup to watch is Oklahoma's Najera versus Purdue's Brian Cardinal. Both are senior power forwards and classic grinders with little regard for their elbows or knees. All available medical personnel should be on alert.

* St. John's vs. Gonzaga--"Zagalicious" is how Gonzaga's first-round win over Louisville was being touted in Spokane. Mark Few's team committed 24 turnovers in the win, which probably won't cut it against St. John's. Also, the Zags need to wake up forward Casey Calvary, who averaged 21 points and nine rebounds in the team's three-win run in the West Coast Conference tournament but was limited to two dunks against Louisville. St. John's nearly became only the fourth second-seeded team to lose to a No. 15, but Lavor Postell's three-point play saved the Red Storm in a 61-56 win over Northern Arizona. Both teams are thin. St. John's is only seven deep while Gonzaga is without guard Mike Nelson, the WCC defensive player of the year who ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the conference tournament.

AT SALT LAKE CITY

* Texas vs. Louisiana State--Texas looked strong in its first-round win over Indiana State, even with star center Chris Mihm limited to 28 minutes because of foul trouble. Fouls will again be a concern against LSU in a game that will feature two of nation's strongest teams--Texas' front line of the 7-foot Mihm, 6-8 Chris Owens and 6-7 Gabe Muoneke against LSU's 6-11 Jabari Smith, 6-9 Stromile Swift and 6-8 Brian Beshara. LSU needs to make amends for a first-round escape against Southeast Missouri State, needing Beshara's three-point bask with 18 seconds left to hold off the Indians, 64-61. If the game is a push inside, the guards will win or lose it. Texas' trio of Ivan Wagner, William Clay and Darren Kelly combined for nine of 20 shots in Thursday's win. LSU doesn't have much beyond starters Torris Bright and Lamont Roland.

* Arizona vs. Wisconsin--Brain dominated brawn in Wisconsin's first-round win over Fresno State, and this is a similar matchup. Arizona prefers an up-tempo game; Wisconsin plays in-your-shirt defense and squeezes every second out of the shot clock on offense. Wisconsin blitzed Fresno State with a 26-4 second-half run, and defensive stopper Mike Kelly limited Courtney Alexander, the nation's leading scorer, to 11 points. Arizona is in trouble if Wisconsin shoots as well in the second half as it did against Fresno State, making 13 of 26 shots. Arizona played a nervous first half before easily dispatching Jackson State, and Coach Lute Olson says his team's lack of depth against Wisconsin is not that much of a concern. "Stanford has a pretty long bench and they were holding their shirts in the end," Olson said of his team's two victories over the Cardinal.

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