March 21, 2000
GAME: No. 6 UCLA (21-11) vs. No. 2 Iowa State (31-4), Midwest Regional
TIME: Thursday, 9:55 p.m. EST.
SITE: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mich.
After its stunning rout of Maryland in the second round, UCLA tries to upend another higher-seeded team when it plays Iowa State in the regional semifinals.
The sixth-seeded Bruins had the most dominant second-round performance of any of the 16 teams left, ripping the third-seeded Terrapins on Saturday, 105-70. Earl Watson had 17 points and tied a Midwest Regional record with 16 assists as UCLA shot a torrid 62.5 percent from the field and hit 14 of 25 3-point shots for the game.
Five players finished in double figures for the Bruins, who have won eight straight games. JaRon Rush and Jerome Moiso added 14 points apiece, Dan Gadzuric netted 13 and Jason Kapono had 11 for UCLA, which had 28 assists on its 40 baskets.
"From the tipoff we just came out so focused," Watson said. "I could see it in the team's eyes. We were ready from the jump."
Watson underwent laser surgery Monday to repair a small hole in his left retina. He was hit above the eye during Saturday's game and needed four stitches to close the wound. Watson is expected to resume practicing with the team and will play Thursday.
"It was stressful," Watson said. "It was scary, somebody doing something with my eye. But it was cool. Technology is amazing."
Iowa State continued the best season in school history with a 79-60 victory over seventh-seeded Auburn in the second round Saturday. Marcus Fizer had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the second-seeded Cyclones, who are in the regional semifinals for the third time in school history and second time in four years.
Stevie Johnson added 21 points and Michael Nurse had 14 for Iowa State, which was picked to finish at the bottom of the Big 12 in the preseason but is now the only No. 2 seed remaining in the NCAA tournament.
"It feels great to prove to the people that we're better than what they expected," forward Kantrail Horton said.
Fizer, who had to deal with constant double-teaming by Auburn, may see more of the same against UCLA. Moiso is 6-foot-10 and Gadzuric is 6-foot-11, while Rush and Kapono both are 6-foot-7. That may cause problems for the Cyclones, whose tallest starter is the 6-foot-8 Fizer and have only three players taller on their roster.
"We're going to play them with all due respect, especially when you take into consideration their last game and the way they just handled a great Maryland team like that," Fizer said. "We're not going to look over them one bit, but we're going into that game with every aspiration of winning."
UCLA has won all six meetings between the schools, including three NCAA tournament games. The most recent meeting was a 74-73 overtime triumph in the 1997 Midwest Regional semifinals, with the other victories coming in the first round in 1989 and 1993.
The winner of this game will play either top-seeded Michigan State or fourth-seeded Syracuse in the regional final Saturday.
PROBABLE STARTERS: UCLA - F Kapono (16.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg), F Sean Farnham (1.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg), C Moiso (12.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg), G Watson (11.5 ppg, 5.9 apg), G Billy Knight (5.3 ppg, 0.7 apg). Iowa State - F Horton (8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg), F Fizer (23.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg), F Stevie Johnson (9.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg), G Jamaal Tinsley (10.7 ppg, 6.6 apg), G Nurse (12.2 ppg, 2.2 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: UCLA - At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference, defeated Ball State 65-57 in first round, defeated Maryland 105-70 in second round. Iowa State - Automatic bid, Big 12 Conference tournament champion, defeated Central Connecticut State 89-79 in first round, defeated Auburn 79-60 in second round.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORDS: UCLA - 76-27, 35 appearances. Iowa State - 10-10, 11 appearances.