?In the Big East, Syracuse gathered valuable momentum for the task at hand. The Orangemen began the tournament with a lackluster 67-53 win over Boston College, gained confidence with a 68-63 victory over Seton Hall and ended with an 85-68 rout of Villanova. The constant was the brilliant play of guard Sherman Douglas. "He just wouldn't let us lose," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "There's nobody tougher I want out there in a tough game. He just picked us up and carried us on his back." Douglas had a total of 47 points and 14 assists in the last two games and was named the tournament's MVP.
After having struggled with free throw shooting for most of the season, the Orangemen were surprisingly proficient at the line. They were 0 for 8 from the foul line and trailing Seton Hall by seven points at the half, when Boeheim gave them a brief lecture. "It's the first time I think I mentioned it [free throw shooting] at halftime," he said later. Syracuse responded by converting 19 of 27 foul shots in the second half. Boeheim couldn't have asked for a better omen as the tournament begins.
?In the ACC final in Greensboro, N.C., Duke beat North Carolina for the third time out of three games this season. The 65-61 defeat was especially disappointing for Tar Heel coach Dean Smith, who admitted that he had put more emphasis on winning the ACC tournament this season than he had in five years. The last time North Carolina won was in 1982. The mainstay for the Blue Devils was 6'5" forward Robert Brickey, who did a defensive number on Tar Heel forward J.R. Reid, helping to limit him to zero points in the first half and seven all told. Duke proved once again that you can beat North Carolina by double-and triple-teaming Reid.
"It's been so long since I've been single-covered," says Reid, "I wouldn't know how to act if a guard wasn't running at me." Brickey, who also had 16 points and 11 rebounds in the Blue Devils' 73-71 semifinal defeat of North Carolina State, could prove to be the x factor for Duke as it sets its sights on the Final Four.
?In the Big Eight, Oklahoma continues to win games and lose friends. In the waning moments of a 99-66 first-round romp over Colorado at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, the Sooners twice committed intentional fouls to regain possession of the ball in a futile effort to score 100 points. The ploy provoked boos from the crowd and a flurry of postgame woofing and scuffling between the two teams. When Oklahoma center Stacey King and a teammate hurled towels in the faces of the losers, the Buffaloes' Michael Lee and Jeff Penix responded by launching a salvo of saliva over the press table at their attackers. "Getting angry and throwing a towel is one thing, but spitting on somebody, that's something you lose your manhood doing," said Sooner coach Billy Tubbs. Reminded that his players had sparked the fracas with their late fouls, Tubbs said, "That's just the way the damn game goes, guys."
Boos rained again on Oklahoma in response to its celebratory dance after a 102-99 semifinal victory over Missouri. But no one could fault the play of King, who poured in 88 points in the three games, including 34 in an 88-83 win over Kansas State in the final. If Oklahoma reaches the Final Four, which will be held in Kansas City, the welcome won't be warm. At game's end on Sunday, Oklahoma cut down the nets in an almost hushed Kemper Arena.
?The only question in the Pac-10 tournament was how much pine time Arizona's starters would log in the Wildcats' three blowouts en route to the championship. In a 93-67 victory over Oregon State in the finals, Arizona pulled its last starter with seven minutes left. But come the NCAAs, will the Cats be too rested—and untested—for their own good? Don't count on it. "I can't imagine that we could be in a better spot right now," said Arizona coach Lute Olson. "We're far and away the best we've been all year."
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