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Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

Indiana 75, Utah 56

March 14, 2002

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— Two recent trends of the NCAA tournament's first round were broken at Arco Arena when Indiana beat Utah.

Tom Coverdale had 19 points and eight rebounds, and Jeff Newton scored 15 points as the fifth-seeded Hoosiers won their first tournament game since Bob Knight's departure, beating the Runnin' Utes 75-56 Thursday night in the South Regional.

Indiana, making its 17th straight tournament appearance, had lost five of its previous seven first-round games, including upset losses to low seeds Kent State and Pepperdine in the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Utah had never lost a first-round game under coach Rick Majerus.

But a scorching shooting performance by Indiana's entire roster gave coach Mike Davis his first tournament victory in rather easy fashion.

Indiana shot 63 percent in the first half and 55 percent for the game, with reserve big man Newton going 7-of-9 from the field. Coverdale built on his strong performance in the Big Ten tournament with three 3-pointers and a solid defensive game.

Indiana advanced to face UNC Wilmington, which upset Southern California, in the second round Saturday.

Senior Phil Cullen hit seven straight 3-pointers and scored a career-best 25 points for 12th-seeded Utah, which had won all eight of its previous first-round games during Majerus' 13 seasons in Salt Lake City.

But the Utes, who squeaked into the tournament after an inconsistent season that ended with four losses in six games, couldn't match Indiana's hot shooting and heady defense. Nick Jacobson had 11 points to help Cullen, but the rest of Utah's roster managed just 20 points on 9-for-27 shooting.

The Hoosiers came out in a profound groove, hitting 12 of their first 16 shots while streaking to a big first-half lead. Indiana made a 17-2 run in less than 4 minutes, hitting from inside and outside.

Utah shot 55 percent in the half, but made 11 turnovers and never got in a rhythm except for Cullen, the Utes' minor league baseball pitcher who never developed into the Keith Van Horn heir many Utah fans thought he would.

But for one night, Cullen finally resembled Van Horn. Cullen hit four 3-pointers in the first half for 16 points as Indiana pulled away.

Travis Spivey, the much-traveled Utah point guard who has played for five coaches in five collegiate seasons, also helped out, but the rest of the Utes struggled. Mountain West Conference player of the year Britton Johnsen was just 2-for-7 from the field before fouling out, while his brother Jeff went 3-for-11.

Indiana jumped to a 20-point lead early in the second half, and the Utes couldn't cut far into it. Just when Utah managed to cool down the Hoosiers on defense, the Utes endured nearly 6 scoreless minutes between baskets.

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