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Seton Hall Shows Arizona Door

March 19, 2004|From Associated Press

Trailing by 14 with its best player on the bench with cramps, Seton Hall looked as if it would be going home early from the NCAA tournament. Instead, the Pirates started a comeback that will keep them hanging around awhile.

Kelly Whitney overcame leg cramps to finish with 24 points and 14 rebounds and lift the eighth-seeded Pirates to a come-from-behind 80-76 victory over ninth-seeded Arizona in the first round Thursday night.

Andre Barrett had 19 points and made several key plays late for Seton Hall (21-9), which won its opening-round game for the seventh time in eight tournament appearances.

"This team never gave up on each other," said Barrett, who also had six assists. "We went into the locker room and said, 'We're down, but we have an opportunity to win this game. There's no way we've come this far to lose this game.' "

The Pirates advanced to play top-seeded Duke, which defeated Alabama State, 96-61, in the Atlanta Regional on Saturday.

The Pirates made three of their first nine shots to open the second half, but made 13 of 19 the rest of the way to erase the deficit in their first NCAA appearance in four years.

"I believe there's a will," Coach Louis Orr said. "You can influence the game. We played like we couldn't be denied."

It was an unceremonious exit for Arizona (20-10), which was in the tournament for a national-best 20th consecutive year.

The game was remarkably similar to the season for Arizona -- strong start, bad finish. The Wildcats were 9-1 and ranked third in the AP poll on Jan. 5, but they went only 11-9 the rest of the way, and the low point came in the final game.

"It just seems like a repeat of problems we've had all year long," Coach Lute Olson said. "We have trouble living with prosperity."

The Wildcats' defense had been porous all year, giving up 78.4 points a game, the worst in 21 seasons under Olson. The Pirates shot 37% with seven turnovers in the first half, but shot 57% and had only three turnovers after the break.

Making the comeback more remarkable was that Whitney was in and out of the lineup with cramps throughout the second half. Barrett thought it might be a sign of destiny.

"I said, 'There's no way we're going to lose because I'm cramping and he's cramping. We were playing too hard to lose this game,' " Barrett said.

Andre Iguodala scored 19 points to lead the Wildcats, who lost in the opening round for the first time since 1999.

The Wildcats had a 37-31 lead at halftime and eventually pushed it to 53-39 on a jumper by freshman Mustafa Shakur with 14:58 left.

"We were right there," said Shakur, who scored 14 points. "We had it in the grasp of our hand and we just stopped playing with that sense of urgency."

Duke 96, Alabama State 61 -- Duke was looking to play through some pain and work out the kinks. Alabama State proved to be the perfect opponent for that kind of game.

Shavlik Randolph scored 20 points and Daniel Ewing had 19 more to help the top-seeded Blue Devils beat the Hornets. Duke (28-5) won its NCAA opener for the eighth consecutive time.

"I thought our kids were ready and that was the main concern for me," Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I felt we did a real good job tonight."

It looked easy against 16th-seeded Alabama State (16-15), 230th in the latest RPI rankings.

Malcolm Campbell scored 26 points to lead the Hornets, who play a few miles from the governor's mansion in Montgomery, and will close out the year as Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champions -- a great run for a team that began the season 3-12.

"The way we finished the season, you can't really take anything away from us," Hornet Coach Rob Spivery said.

Typical of many 1-16 matchups, Duke put in a performance that looked great in a lot of ways, but didn't answer every question.

Senior guard Chris Duhon started despite bruised ribs he got last Sunday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final, a 95-87 loss to Maryland that raised some questions about Duke's readiness for this tournament.

But all is not perfect there: Duhon, the emotional center of the team and possibly its best defender, played only 16 minutes and didn't score.

Duhon's backcourt partner, J.J. Redick, was a mixed bag.

The team's leading scorer and best shooter didn't take a shot for the first 13 minutes. He went 0 for 5 for the rest of the first half. Urged to shoot more after halftime, Redick made three quick shots and finished five for 13 for 14 points.



Early Exits

Lute Olson's first-round losses in the NCAA tournament as coach at Arizona:

1985: No. 7 Alabama 50, No. 10 Arizona 41 -- Still more than a decade away from legendary coaching status, Olson loses in his first NCAA game at Arizona. A starter for Alabama was current Crimson Tide Coach Mark Gottfried.

1986: No. 8 Auburn 73, No. 9 Arizona 63 -- Olson's Wildcat team with two future NBA starters, Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr, loses to an Auburn team with two NBA players-to-be, Chris Morris and Chuck Person.

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