MARCH 13, 15/OKLAHOMA CITY
Coach Roy Williams
Team scoring 84.2 (FG%: 49.2) (3-pointers: 216-564, 38.3%)
Opponents' scoring 67.5 (FG%: 40.4)
Rebound margin +8.4
Team FT% 68.2
Whom not to foul Paul Pierce (75%), Raef LaFrentz (75%)
Whom to foul Kenny Gregory (41%), T.J. Pugh (59%)
Quality wins Arizona 90-87, UMass 73-71, TCU 94-78
Player to Watch
You're thinking LaFrentz, the senior, but you're wrong. Keep an eye on junior Pierce, a junior, who has outplayed his more ballyhooed teammate when it has counted most: In the last two NCAA tournaments, the 6'7" Pierce has outscored (16.7 to 12.1) and outrebounded (8.6 to 8.3) the 6'11" LaFrentz. Last year Pierce nearly saved the Jayhawks from losing to Arizona with 27 points. LaFrentz was held to 14.
The offense is in good hands with LaFrentz (19.7) and Pierce (20.3) supplying nearly half of the points. The concern is defense. Kansas' three losses—to Maryland, Hawaii and Missouri—exposed the D of junior guard Ryan Robertson, whose sneakers appeared to weigh 80 pounds. There's the weight of expectations, too. Kansas has been a No. 1 seed three other times in the 1990s and flamed out early each time. If it does again, the Wheat State may be renamed the Mental State.
The Final Four, and more—if only because, in this year of Elway and Earnhardt, there's breakthrough in the air.
16 Prairie View
Coach Elwood Plummet
Team scoring 73.2 (FG%: 40.3) (3-pointers: 118-436, 271%)
Opponents' scoring 79.1 (FG%: 41.9)
Team FT% 60.1
Whom not to foul Kevin Bell (74%), King Whetstone (69%)
Whom to foul Julius Marble (52%), Saladin Bilodeau (57%)
Quality win At Tulane 69-64
Player to Watch
Tamarron Sharpe, a lefthanded senior guard who leads the Panthers in scoring (17.1), finally may have found his outside touch. He shot 23.1% from three-point range in the regular season but made 6 of 8 as surprising Prairie View swept through the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.