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In a Flash, the Tide's out

KENT ST. 71, ALABAMA 58: Another upset for the 10th-seeded Golden Flashes, whose confidence grows.

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 17, 2002


GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Stan Heath is Kent State's basketball coach, not a fortune teller.

But if his hunch about the team is right, the Mid-American Conference champions aren't anywhere near finished making a statement in the NCAA Tournament.

The 10th-seeded Golden Flashes ousted second-seeded Alabama 71-58 Saturday in the second round of the South Region, extending the nation's longest winning streak to 20.

"We're in uncharted waters right now," Heath said. "But I like to read eyes in the locker room, and I wasn't looking at a bunch of guys who were saying: 'Hey, our season is over. We've accomplished what we want to accomplish.'

"I saw some eyes of players that said we're doing some special things. That's the attitude of my players, and I'm certainly not satisfied right now as a coach."

Kent State (29-5) advanced to a region semifinal for the first time with its third tournament upset in two years. The Golden Flashes beat No. 7 seed Oklahoma State in the first round.

"They are not here by fluke," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "(Oklahoma State's) Eddie Sutton would agree with me, and probably a whole lot of other coaches, too."

Trevor Huffman scored 20, and Antonio Gates had 18 to pace the Golden Flashes, who methodically built a 12-point halftime lead before blowing it open in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Alabama (27-8), the SEC regular-season champion, became the highest-seeded school to exit the tournament. The Crimson Tide also struggled in a first-round victory over Florida Atlantic and shot 38 percent in Saturday's loss.

"I thought they were going to be a tougher team," Huffman said. "I felt like when we put it together, I don't think they expected us to be that good."

Rod Grizzard led Alabama with 17 points, but most came after the game was out of hand. SEC player of the year Erwin Dudley had 12 points and 10 rebounds, but freshman standout Mo Williams was limited to 12 points after scoring a career-high 33 in the first round.

Alabama was hurt by poor shooting Saturday. The Crimson Tide missed nine of its first 12 shots, fell behind 18-8, and finished the half 8-for-26 (30.6 percent.)

To make matters worse, Kent State held its own on the backboards against Alabama's larger, more physical frontcourt and disrupted the Crimson Tide's offense by forcing 11 first-half turnovers.

"I don't think energy was a problem for us," Williams said. "We were sky high for this one, up to the roof. It was a case of hitting shots, plain and simple. They made more shots than we did."

Heath thought one of the keys for Kent State would be getting off to a strong start. The Golden Flashes weren't as sharp as they were in building an early 15-point lead over Oklahoma State in the first round, but their persistence produced a 36-24 halftime lead.

Gates led the way, bolstering his team's confidence with each shot he made.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound forward had 10 points at the break and had six more during the nine-minute stretch in which the Golden Flashes build their lead to 58-34.

DUKE 84, ND 77: Jason Williams has been a liability at times on free throws. The All-America guard didn't blink under NCAA Tournament pressure in Greenville, S.C.

Williams, 5-for-18 from the field, sank four straight from the free-throw line down the stretch for the top-seeded and defending national champion Blue Devils, who had to rally.

"I would rather have people who shoot free throws than people who don't want the ball," said Mike Krzyzewski, who improved to 58-14 in the NCAAs. "Jason has wanted the ball his whole career at Duke and he will keep getting it as long as his career keeps lasting."

Williams is a 67 percent free-throw shooter, and one of the lowlights came in Duke's first loss of the season, against Florida State on Jan. 6. In that game, Williams missed six straight free throws in the final 51/2 minutes.

He noticed Irish fans doing the "tomahawk chop" chant with the game on the line.

"Ever since we lost to Florida State a lot of opposing fans are doing that," Williams said. "If anything, it helps me focus even more because it makes me remember when I missed six in a row. It helps me buckle down."

He sank the go-ahead free throws with 1:04 left as the Blue Devils (31-3) advanced to the round of 16 for the fifth straight year and 18th time overall.

INDIANA 76, UNC WILMINGTON 67: Jared Jeffries had 20 of his 22 points in the second half, and the Hoosiers held off the 13th-seeded Seahawks in Sacramento, Calif. Indiana advanced to the third round for the first time since 1994.

Second-year coach Mike Davis will lead fifth-seeded Indiana (22-11) against defending national champion Duke (31-3) in the semifinals in Lexington, Ky.

Two days after UNCW pulled off the biggest first-round upset by beating fourth-seeded Southern Cal 93-89 in overtime, the Seahawks couldn't find the same magic and never led.

Brett Blizzard scored 29, including 9-for-10 on free throws, for UNCW, which finished 23-10, a school record for victories. Anthony Terrell added 13 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Seahawks control rebounding (35-27).

Indiana's A.J. Moye and Kyle Hornsby added 12 points each, and Jeff Newton had 11. The Hoosiers shot 56 percent from the field.

After UNCW trailed by 17 in the second half, Blizzard keyed a 26-12 run that drew it to 66-63 with 2:45 remaining. He had 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and Ed Williams added nine.

But Indiana held the lead. Jeffries scored inside as the Hoosiers ended the game on a 10-4 run.

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