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NCAA Tournament Recap (Sw Missouri St-Tennessee)

Posted: Sun March 14, 1999 at 6:24 p.m. EST

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- A pair of Hoosiers are showing Southwest Missouri State the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Indiana natives Danny Moore and Kevin Ault combined for 39 points as the 12th-seeded Bears recorded a stunning 81-51 rout of Tennessee in the second round of the East Region.

Guided by former Indiana point guard and 1987 NCAA Tournament winner Steve Alford, Southwest Missouri State (22-10) has recorded decisive victories over fifth-seeded Wisconsin and now the Volunteers in the first two rounds.

"I couldn't be more happy and proud of our team," Alford said. "We played awfully good defense today. Effort, heart and intensity are the keys to that. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win; there's nothing like it."

Moore scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Ault, Alford's first recruit after taking over the Bears program in 1995, added 14 points.

"We came out out excited and with great intensity," said Moore. "We didn't give Tennessee a lot of opportunities. A lot of my success was my teammates getting me the ball."

"There's been a lot of talk about us going through," Alford added. "There'll be more talk about it now. There are several Cinderella teams out there and we're one of those. We messed up a lot of brackets and we'll enjoy that going home on the plane tonight."

Southwest Missouri State's reward for its miracle run in Charlotte is a matchup with top-seeded and Duke on Friday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

"They're an incredible team," Moore said of Duke, which has both its tournament games by 41 points.

Brandon Wharton and Isiah Victor netted 11 points apiece for the Volunteers (21-9), who were denied their first appearance in the round of 16 since 1981.

"Today was an embarassment, but overall it's been a good season," Tennessee coach Jerry Green said.

The Bears never trailed and quickly jumped to a 9-2 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the game on Ault's 15-foot jumper. Tennessee came within 19-13 on Vincent Yarbrough's free throw, but Southwest Missouri State scored the next six points on a free throw by William Fontleroy, a dunk by Allen Phillips and Ault's 3-pointer.

Southwest Missouri State took a 36-26 lead into the half and built its advantage to 14 points before Tony Harris drained a 3-pointer with 17:39 remaining to bring Tennessee within 42-31. But the Bears scored 16 of the next 18 points to take command.

Moore began the 16-2 run with a pair of free throws and Fontleroy followed with a 3-pointer. Green called timeout, but Ron Bruton's bank shot gave the Bears a 49-31 lead.

Tennessee's Rashard Lee briefly stemmed the tide with a layup at the 15:05 mark, but Moore drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing, Ault drove for a layup and Bruton converted an alley-oop feed from Phillips. After another Tennessee timeout, Moore's turnaround jumper gave Southwest Missouri State a commanding 58-33 advantage.

"We can't have turnovers, because they lead to transistion points," Fontleroy said of the Bears' offensive efficiency in the second half. "That's what we wanted to prevent."

Southwest Missouri State eventually built a 32-point bulge on Eric Judd's free throw that made it 78-46 with 1:14 to play.

"Today, they were an awfully good team and we weren't," added Green. "We didn't play well. They handled the ball well, they had a very solid gameplan. We were hoping to take a bigger step his year, but we couldn't and we'll just have to work harder for next year."

Bruton had 12 points and five rebounds and Ken Stringer contributed 10 and five for the Bears, who shot 52 percent (28-of-54) from the field and connected on 9-of-22 3-pointers. They committed 17 turnovers but Tennessee could score just six points off the miscues.

"I knew this would be a tough fight," Stringer said. "I felt we would win, but not by 30."

Tennessee did hold a 39-37 advantage on the boards but made just 29.5 percent (18-of-61) of its attempts and was 6-of-29 from beyond the arc.

"It hurts to lose like this," said Wharton. "I wish we could have played better. We got a lot of open looks but we didn't hit any shots and they hit theirs and they won the game."

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP



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