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Archive for Sunday, March 31, 2002

s Price held to six points, McGhee fouls out in semifinal setback

March 31, 2002

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— Dane Fife shut down Hollis Price, fouls ended Aaron McGhee's night early and Atlanta native Jeff Newton did the rest as Indiana reached the NCAA championship basketball game for the first time since 1987.

Newton came off the bench to lead the Hoosiers (25-11) with a season-high 19 points and added six rebounds and four of IU's eight blocked shots in a 73-64 Final Four victory over Oklahoma on Saturday night at Georgia Dome.

"All I was dreaming about was coming in and winning both of these games in front of the home crowd," said Newton, a 6-foot-9 junior who averages 7.8 points a game, but has made 23 of 29 shots in the five tournament games. "I really didn't have too many personal goals. I just wanted to win."

Newton filled in when starter Jared Jeffries picked up two early fouls, and reserve guard Donald Perry scored 10 points in 11 minutes while backing up injured guard Tom Coverdale. Nine different Hoosiers scored, and Indiana's bench outscored its OU counterparts 41-12.

"That's what a national championship team is about," Perry said. "It is a team game. You cannot do it with just one or two guys."

Oklahoma learned that lesson. With starters McGhee and Jabahri Brown in foul trouble, OU needed a big game from Price but the junior guard couldn't deliver against Fife.

Fife, a senior guard, scored just three points but limited Price, Oklahoma's leading scorer, to six points on 1-of-11 shooting.

"Fife did a great job," Price said. "He was so physical. I usually get around that, but tonight I couldn't overcome it."

When McGhee was in the game, it looked like Oklahoma (31-5) might roll into its first national title game since 1988. The Sooners, who had won 12 straight games and 16 of 17, led by as much as eight points in the first half and were up 34-30 at halftime. But McGhee, a 6-8 senior forward who was OU's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, picked up his second foul with 17:45 left in the game and picked up his third on the following in-bounds play.

Indiana, the best three-point shooting team in the Big Ten, made only two of seven three-pointers in the first half against OU's man-to-man defense, but the Hoosiers knocked in all six of their three-point attempts when foul-plagued OU switched to a zone in the second half.

Seven different Hoosiers hit at least one three against OU, which had held opponents to a Big 12-best 29.2 percent from three-point range. IU was coming off a 15-of-19 performance in its Elite Eight victory over Kent State.

"That shows you that 15 for 19 the other night wasn't a fluke," OU coach Kelvin Sampson said. "They're excellent three-point shooters."

After Perry's three put Indiana up 51-48 with 9:59 left, OU never regained the lead in a game that had eight lead changes. McGhee picked up his fourth foul with 8:01 remaining and came out of the game. At that point, he had accounted for 22 of the Sooners' 50 points.

"When Aaron's on the floor, we're a lot harder to guard because you have to react to him," Sampson said.

Price, an All-Big 12 selection who averaged 16.8 points a game, finally scored his first field goal on a three-pointer with 5:44 remaining, cutting the deficit to 57-53.

OU was within five when McGhee checked back in with 5:02 to play, but he fouled out less than a minute later.

Oklahoma didn't give up, though. OU tied the game at 60 on Daryan Selvy's basket with 3:26 to play, but the senior reserve missed a chance to put OU in front on the Sooners' next possession when he couldn't knock down the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.

Indiana found some breathing room with a 7-0 run, including four points by Newton. The Hoosiers sealed the national semifinal victory by sinking 9-of-12 foul shots in the final two minutes.

"This is just unbelievable for us to be playing for the national championship," said second-year IU coach Mike Davis. "Oklahoma's a really good basketball team. We took their best punches."

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