March 23, 2001
REGIONAL: East, finals.
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
SITE: First Union Center, Philadelphia.
While Duke is no stranger to the Final Four, Southern California is hopingto make it there for the first time in 47 years as the two teams square off inthe East region final.
The Blue Devils are in a regional final for the 10th time in the last 16years. The Trojans, on the other hand, are in the round of eight for the firsttime since 1954, the year they lost to Bradley in the national semifinals.
'Duke has all the mystique, the tradition,' USC coach Henry Bibby said.'They've been here numerous times. They're accustomed to being here. It'snormal for them. It's not normal for us to be here every year.'
Duke is 8-1 in regional final play under coach Mike Krzyzewski. Although theBlue Devils have often made it this deep in the tournament, Krzyzewski does notwant his team to take the senior-laden Trojans lightly.
'They are a veteran team, a team that's played together. They're tough.They're men,' Krzyzewski said of the Trojans. 'They're a difficult matchupfor us because their experience, not just individually but collectively, makesthem very good.'
Top-seeded Duke has relied heavily on the stellar play of its twoAll-Americans in advancing to this point. Senior forward Shane Battier andsophomore point guard Jason Williams are averaging a combined 53 points pergame in the tournament.
Williams matched his career high with 34 points, including 19 straight forhis team in the second half, in Duke's 76-63 victory over fourth-seeded UCLA onThursday.
'Jason's a tremendous talent for us and it didn't surprise us that he coulddo that for us,' said Battier, who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds,his third straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The key for USC on Saturday is to find a way to slow down Williams anddisrupt Duke's high-scoring offense. Trojan guard Jeff Trepagnier, who ishaving a terrific tournament, averaging 16.3 points and a team-high 3.0 steals,will likely be assigned to shadow Williams.
USC's strength through three games has been its dominance in the paint. SamClancy has been a monster on the low blocks, averaging 17.7 points, 10.7rebounds and 4.0 blocks.
Led by the aforementioned inside-outside duo, USC jumped out to big leads inits wins over Oklahoma State, Boston College and Kentucky.
The sixth-seeded Trojans blew all but one point of a 21-point lead onThursday, but still survived to defeat the second-seeded Wildcats 80-76.
Coach Henry Bibby marvels at the resolve of his team, which has knocked offtwo of the top three seeds in the East.
'The last three games, I've been speechless,' Bibby said. 'I like beingspeechless in these situations.'
Bibby, who played on UCLA's national championship teams from 1970-72, saidhis team has earned the right to be excited.
'People talk about us celebrating after each win, well, this is the firsttime we've gotten here,' Bibby said. 'When you've come as many times as Dukeand UCLA and Kentucky, you don't have a lot to celebrate. This is normal forthem. This is not normal for USC to be here every year and we're happy about itand I think the kids have a right to show people they're excited about it.'
PROBABLE STARTERS: Southern California - F Clancy (17.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg), FDavid Bluthenthal (13.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg), C Brian Scalabrine (14.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg),G Brandon Glanville (13.0 ppg, 6.0 apg), G Trepagnier (8.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg). Duke- F Battier (19.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg), F Nate James (13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg), F MikeDunleavy (12.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), G Williams (20.9 ppg, 6.2 apg), G Chris Duhon(7.0 ppg, 4.5 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Southern California - At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference,defeated No. 11 Oklahoma State 69-54, first round, defeated No. 3 BostonCollege 74-71, second round, defeated No. 2 Kentucky 80-76, regional semifinal.Duke - Automatic bid, ACC tournament champion, defeated No. 16 Monmouth 95-52,first round, defeated No. 9 Missouri 94-81, second round, defeated No. 4 UCLA76-63, regional semifinal.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Southern California - 9-12, 11 years. Duke -70-22, 24 years.