March 13, 2001
REGION: South, first round
TIME: Friday, 10:25 p.m. EST.
SITE: The Pyramid, Memphis, Tenn.
REGION: South, first round
BERKELEY, Calif. - Jerry Tarkanian will try to get his alma mater its first NCAA tournament winsince 1982 as Fresno State battles California in the first round of the SouthRegion at The Pyramid.
The ninth-seeded Bulldogs (25-6) reached the field of 64 last season butwere bounced by eventual Final Four participant Wisconsin in the first round ofthe West Region. Fresno State's lone NCAA tournament victory was a 50-46 winover West Virginia in the second round of the 1982 tournament.
Fresno State made a brief appearance in the Top 25 in January on thestrength of a 13-game winning streak and again heading into the WesternAthletic Conference tournament. The Bulldogs won the regular-season WesternAthletic Conference title but were upset by eventual tournament champion Hawaiiin the semifinals, failing to take advantage of 25 turnovers in a 76-67 defeat.
The Bulldogs are an up-tempo team and thrive on defensive pressure. Pointguard Tito Maddox has been up and down averaging eight assists and fiveturnovers per contest.
California (20-10), seeded eighth, finished tied for fourth in the Pac-10Conference but lost three of its final five games. The Golden Bears did not domuch to distinguish themselves to the NCAA tournament selection committee,going 1-7 against the other four Pac-10 teams - Stanford, UCLA, USC and Arizona- in the field of 65.
Despite that mark, coach Ben Braun is confident his team will be ready tomeet the challenges Fresno State will present with its ball-hawking defense.
'You need to be strong with the ball and decrease your turnovers,' Braunsaid. 'We've been a team that likes to run as well. We have to beopportunistic and look for opportunities to run and take care of the ball atthe same time. We've got to make good decisions on the floor.'
The Bears will expect a big game from senior forward Sean Lampley, thePac-10 player of the year. He averaged 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per gamewhile shooting 51 percent from the field. Lampley also showed an ability topass out of a double-team, averaging 3.3 assists.
'Coach Braun talked to me before the season about my consistency, and thenonce the Pac-10 season started, he talked to me again about my consistency,'Lampley said. 'I think that has been the key for this team all year long. Aslong as I stay consistent throughout the NCAA tournament, then we should dowell.'
California leads the all-time series and posted a 79-71 victory over FresnoState in the first round of the 1999 NIT. Lampley had 28 points and 14 reboundsin that game to lead the Bears.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Fresno State - F Chris Jeffries (15.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg), FShannon Swillis (7.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg), C Melvin Ely (15.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg), G Maddox(13.9 ppg, 8.0 apg), G Demetrius Porter (15.1 ppg, 3.2 apg). California - F JoeShipp (8.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg), F Sean Lampley (19.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), C Soloman Hughes(8.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg), G Shantay Legans (9.4 ppg, 4.8 apg), G Brian Wethers (8.5ppg, 1.6 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Fresno State - At-large bid, Western Athletic Conference.California - At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Fresno State - 1-4, 4 years. California - 16-10,10 years.