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SPORTS EXTRA / NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT | FIRST LOOK

ARIZONA vs. MICHIGAN STATE

March 26, 2001|ROBYN NORWOOD

FINAL FOUR

AT MINNEAPOLIS

Saturday's Semifinal Games

MICHIGAN STATE (28-4) vs. ARIZONA (27-7), 2:30 p.m.

DUKE (33-4) vs. MARYLAND (25-10), 5 p.m.

National Championship

MONDAY, APRIL 2, 6:15 p.m.

All Games on Channel 2; All Times Pacific

STARTING LINEUPS

KEY RESERVES

THE BREAKDOWN

* FORWARD: Sometimes it seems as if Michigan State's entire roster is made up of rugged, defense-minded, rebound-swallowing forwards. Arizona's Michael Wright, Richard Jefferson and Luke Walton are a fine complement of forwards, but only Wright has the brawn to mix it up with the relentless and physical Spartans. Michigan State also has swingmen Jason Richardson and David Thomas to keep the high-flying Jefferson in check.

* CENTER: Arizona's 7-foot-1 Loren Woods meets Michigan State's 6-8 Andre Hutson. Hutson's ruggedness probably can counter the size advantage of the sometimes-soft Woods. And Michigan State definitely has enough players to try to wear him down or get him in foul trouble.

* GUARD: Give the nod to Arizona's Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas, who probably won't be corralled as easily as Temple's Quincy Wadley was by Michigan State. The Spartans counter with Charlie Bell at point guard and Richardson or Thomas on the wing.

* COACHING: Michigan State's Tom Izzo might make the best defensive strategy decisions of any coach in the game. At 46, he's just getting started, and he already can match Lute Olson's one NCAA championship. But the emotional intangible that accompanies Arizona is the poignant memory of Olson's wife, Bobbi, who died of cancer during the season.

* FINAL ANALYSIS: Remember, Arizona was dubbed perhaps one of the best teams ever before this season's turmoil. The Wildcats had to hang tough against the late charge by Illinois, and should provide another great tournament game. But Michigan State's depth and experience and Izzo's under-recognized coaching savvy might get the workmanlike Spartans back to the title game despite losing three starters from last year's NCAA championship team. Defending champions can be emotionally vulnerable or susceptible to pressure--but not this one. "I don't think there's any pressure on us," Bell said. "I don't think anybody expects us to win another national championship."

STATISTICS

TEAM COMPARISON

*--*

ARIZ. MSU Points Per Game 81.6 77.9 Opponent Points Per Game 66.0 61.2 Margin 15.6 16.7 Field-Goal Pct. .479 .492 Opponent Field-Goal Pct. .394 .389 3-Point Shooting Pct. .358 .328 Opp. 3-Point Shooting Pct. .308 .325 3-Pt. Baskets Per Game 5.4 4.5 Opp. 3-Pt. Baskets Per Game 5.9 6.2 Free Throw Pct. .751 .720 Rebound Margin 7.0 15.7 Turnovers Per Game 15.6 13.6 Turnover Differential 0.9 0.3 Steals Per Game 7.8 6.5 Blocked Shots Per Game 4.3 4.1 Personal Fouls Per Game 17.6 18.5

*--*

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

ARIZONA

* Points: Arenas 16.5; Wright 15.8; Woods 13.0; Gardner 11.1; Jefferson 10.9.

* Rebounds: Wright 7.9; Woods 6.1.

* Assists: Gardner 4.4; Walton 3.2.

* Field-Goal Pct.: Wright .595; Woods .508.

* Free-Throw Pct.: Woods .833; Gardner .800.

* 3-Point Baskets: Gardner 73; Arenas 68.

MICHIGAN STATE

* Points: Richardson 15.0; Bell 13.8; Hutson 13.6; Randolph 10.8.

* Rebounds: Hutson 7.7; Randolph 6.8.

* Assists: Bell 5.2.

* Field-Goal Pct.: Anagonye .630, Hutson .621.

* Free-Throw Pct.: Thomas .903; Bell .769.

* 3-Point Baskets: Bell 52, Richardson 48.

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