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Miami rhapsody

RedHawks stun No. 2 seed Utah for first Sweet 16 berth

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Posted: Monday March 15, 1999 11:38 PM

  Streak buster: Wally Szczerbiak (32) and Miami of Ohio ended Utah's run of 23 straight wins. AP

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Miami of Ohio proved there's more to the Redhawks than Wally Szczerbiak.

Utah held the big forward to just 11 shots in the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional on Sunday and still lost 66-58.

"I think with about six minutes to go in the first half, we discovered that we could play with them," Miami coach Charlie Coles said. "That kind of fired us a little bit.

"We're a team, it doesn't seem like that sometimes, although if you watch, you will see that we are a team. Even when Wally had the 43 the other night, we were playing as a team."

The upset by 10th-seeded Miami of No. 2 seed Utah let people outside the Mid-American Conference know how good the Redhawks are.

Miami (24-7) earned its first-ever trip to the round-of-16 by shooting 48 percent from the floor, making 15 of 17 free throws and matching the Utes with 27 rebounds.

Utah (28-5) held Szczerbiak, who scored 43 points against Washington in the first round, to 24 points, only to have the rest of the Redhawks step up.

Jason Stewart, who came off the bench to score 12 hit his fourth straight 3-pointer to open the second half and tie the score at 32-32. Miami then went on a 22-9 run to take a 10-point lead, 51-41 on a pair of free throws by Szczerbiak with 8:04 left.

"We were looking for an answer and along comes Stewart, one of the hardest-headed guys in America, who hits three 3s," Szczerbiak said. "And I looked around and thought, `If we get up on these guys and body them, they don't like it too much.'"

Utah opened the game using a triangle-and-two defense, covering Szczerbiak and Damon Frierson man-to-man. The Utes rotated help onto Szczerbiak, holding him to eight points in the first half.

"We stopped Frierson and we did a pretty good job on Szczerbiak," Utah coach Rick Majerus said. "We just didn't stop the rest of them."

But if Szczerbiak's point production was down, he was by no means out. His 24 points included 10-of-10 foul shots, six in the final 89 seconds. He also grabbed seven rebounds and had five assists.

"I just let the game come to me and see how it plays out," Szczerbiak said. "On Friday, I had the hot hand and guys did a great job getting me open. This is more like the games I played throughout the season."

Andre Miller led Utah with 20 points, Hanno Mottolo had 12. They were then only Utes to score in double figures.

"We kind of fell into a trap because we had a size advantage and we weren't aggressive," Utah's Alex Jensen said. "We were a little tentative. Most of us weren't wanting the ball."

Utah, which won 23 straight and made it to the national championship game last season, took an 11-point lead in the first half, going up 24-13 as Mottola capped a 7-0 run with two free throws at the 7:29 mark.

But Stewart hit three 3-point baskets over the next 1:20 to cut the Utes' lead to 24-22 with 2:30 left in the half. Szczerbiak hit his second 3-pointer to pull Miami to within one point, 26-25 with 4:16 remaining.

"He stung us pretty good with those shots," Majerus said.

Andre Miller's jumper with seven seconds left gave Utah a 32-29 at the break.

"We got the job done in the second half," Coles said. "At halftime I told the team, `Guess what? We're down three and didn't play very well for 12 minutes. We have a chance.'"

Utah, ranked third nationally in defense this season, holding opponents 39 percent shooting and an average of 55 points a game. The Utes had averaged 72 points a game and been held under 60 points only three times this season.

In Friday's regional opener, Utah outrebounded Arkansas 40-24 and had 25 offensive rebounds.

After losing in the second round in 1995, Utah had advanced past that plateau the last three years. Miami had never won two games in NCAA tournament play.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Miami coach Charlie Coles can hardly wait to play Kentucky. (646 K)
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