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College basketball

Key matchup: Connecticut vs. Georgia Tech

Emeka Okafor vs. Luke Schenscher

By Times Staff Writer
Published April 5, 2004

In this day and age, you don't often see two true low-post players meet in the NCAA title game. But in a throwback to yesterday, we give you Okafor, a unanimous first-team AP All-American, and the rapidly developing 7-1 Schenscher.

Both are coming off big games, or at least big halves.

Okafor, limited to four minutes in the first half against Duke on Saturday, had 18 points, six rebounds and two blocks after intermission. Schenscher had 19 points and 12 rebounds against Oklahoma State.

And both are looking for better games than they had in the team's meeting in the Preseason NIT on Nov. 26.

Okafor, bothered by back spasms, was 2-of-10 for nine points. He had 13 rebounds and six blocks. Schenscher, bothered by foul trouble, had two points on 1 for 5 shooting, three rebounds and two blocks.

CONNECTICUT WINS IF ...

1. The past is meaningless. The Huskies lost to Georgia Tech 77-61 in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT on Nov. 26, but Emeka Okafor had severe back spasms, Rashad Anderson was coming off the bench and Charlie Villanueva was ineligible. This is the same team in name only.

2. Size matters. The Huskies go 6-10, 6-10, 6-11 with their main post players, Okafor, Josh Boone and Villanueva, respectively. Is it any wonder they've been outrebounding their five NCAA Tournament opponents by an average of nearly 12.

3. It keeps up with the quicker Yellow Jackets. UConn likes to run, but it was left behind by Georgia Tech in the earlier meeting. The way to neutralize that is to make shots and take care of the ball.

4. It stays out of foul trouble. Outside of Villanueva and former starter Denham Brown, the Huskies haven't gotten much from the bench. Tonight is not a good time to ask for more.

5. Coach Jim Calhoun's Final Four magic continues. Calhoun is 3-0 in the Final Four, including the 1999 title win against Duke in St. Petersburg.

GEORGIA TECH WINS IF ...

1. The past means something. The Yellow Jackets have changed dramatically since their decisive Preseason NIT win, adding Will Bynum and getting back Theodis Tarver from injury. But it could be a confidence boost for the Yellow Jackets; they beat the Huskies once.

2. Size (of the bench) matters. The Yellow Jackets have played four guys off the bench, including Bynum, the point guard who has come up with big shot after big shot in the tournament. That includes the winner Saturday against Oklahoma State.

3. B.J. Elder can contribute. The team's top scorer, nursing a sprained right ankle, has scored two on 1 of 8 shooting in his past three games (34 minutes).

4. It continues to make the clutch play. Consider Tech has won all five tournament games by single digits, 65-60 against Northern Iowa, 57-54 against Boston College, 72-67 against Nevada, 79-71 against Kansas in overtime and 67-65 against Oklahoma State.

5. Coach Paul Hewitt has the Final Four magic. He's 1-0 as a Final Four coach and would be the 15th to be undefeated at this stage.

- Compiled by Brian Landman.

[Last modified April 5, 2004, 08:09:31]


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