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At a Glance
NCAA Champion--Kentucky (35-4; coached by Tubby Smith/first season with Wildcats; finished in first place in SEC East Division by three games with a 14-2 record).
NIT Champion--Minnesota (20-15; coached by Clem Haskins/12th of 13 seasons with Golden Gophers; finished in eighth place in Big Ten with a 6-10 record).
New Rules--Experimented with four quarters. . . . The five-second dribbling violation when closely guarded is reinstated. . . . Timeout requests can be made by a player on the court or by the head coach.
NCAA Probation--California, Grambling.
NCAA Consensus First-Team All-Americans--Mike Bibby, G, Soph., Arizona (17.2 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.7 apg, 2.4 spg, 38.7 3FG%); Antawn Jamison, F, Jr., North Carolina (22.2 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 57.9 FG%); Raef LaFrentz, C, Sr., Kansas (19.8 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 54.8 FG%); Paul Pierce, F, Jr., Kansas (20.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, 51.3 FG%); Miles Simon, G, Sr., Arizona (17.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.7 apg, 36.8 3FG%).
National Player of the Year--Jamison (AP/NABC/Naismith/USBWA/Wooden).
National Coaches of the Year--North Carolina's Bill Guthridge (34-4/NABC, Maismith), Michigan State's Tom Izzo (22-8/AP, USBWA) and Utah's Rick Majerus (30-4/Wooden).
Bill Guthridge became the winningest first-year coach in history (34-4) after succeeding legendary Dean Smith, who stepped down at North Carolina before the start of official workouts after an NCAA-record 879 victories in 36 years with the Tar Heels. Meanwhile, Michigan dismissed Steve Fisher after several suspect off-the-court transgressions involving the Wolverines' program although Fisher averaged more than 22 triumphs annually in his eight full seasons as head coach. By the end of the decade, federal court documents revealed that former Michigan booster Ed Martin ran an illegal numbers operation that collected thousands of dollars a week in bets from autoworkers. Federal agents investigated whether Martin provided money and loans to players.
In the season's biggest upset, Arkansas became a stocking stuffer when the previously unbeaten Hogs bowed at American-Puerto Rico, 64-59, on Christmas Eve. "They are much better than us," American coach Pep Carlos said. "We did our job. Maybe they didn't do theirs." The Razorbacks then fell to Murray State, 94-83, on Christmas Day when De'Teri Mayes fired in 42 points for the Racers. Earlier, Division II American-Puerto Rico spoiled Alabama's Thanksgiving Holiday, 88-79. American-Puerto Rico also took TCU into overtime before losing. TCU went on to become the first undefeated team in WAC regular-season history.
LIU's Charles Jones scored 53 points in a 179-62 victory over Medgar Evers as the Blackbirds, coached by Ray Haskins, posted the widest margin of victory in major-college history (117 points/see accompanying box). They also broke records for field goals made (76) and steals (39). . . . Texas Tech set an NCAA record by scoring 27 points in an overtime in a 99-94 victory at Nevada. The two teams combined for an NCAA-record 49 points in the extra session (see accompanying box). . . . Mike Jones tallied 51 points vs. Delaware State to break a TCU single-game scoring record that had been intact more than 42 years. Jones' mark lasted only nine days until teammate Lee Nailon set a new standard with 53 points vs. Mississippi Valley State. . . . Also setting school single-game Division I scoring records were Texas-San Antonio's Roderic Hall (52 points against Maine), Buffalo's Mike Martinho (44 vs. Rochester) and Cal State Northridge's Mike O'Quinn (39 vs. Eastern Washington in overtime in Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals at Northern Arizona). Mike Powell tied the Division I single-game record for Loyola (Md.) with 39 points at St. Peter's. . . . Hall, an Army veteran, helped UTSA become the nation's most improved team from the previous season. The Roadrunners went from a 3-25 record in 1996-97 to 16-11.
Eastern Michigan's Earl Boykins (25.7 ppg), Mike Powell (23.1) of Loyola (Md.), Howard's Xavier Singletary (22.3), UCF's Jones (20.8) and Cal Poly's Mike Wozniak (20.3) set school Division I records for highest scoring average in a single season. Singletary transferred after the season to Boston College.
Stanford (30-5/coached by Mike Montgomery), Princeton (27-2/Bill Carmody), Texas Christian (27-6/Billy Tubbs), Illinois State (25-6/Kevin Stallings), Florida International (21-8/Shakey Rodriguez) and Youngstown State (20-9/Dan Peters) had their winningest seasons in school Division I history. Kansas (35-4/Roy Williams), Detroit (25-6/Perry Watson), Fairleigh Dickinson (23-7/Tom Green) and Northern Arizona (21-8/Ben Howland) tied their school Division I records for most victories in a single campaign. . . . Illinois State, 16-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference, won at least 12 MVC outings for the seventh straight season.
Duke was ranked No. 1 in mid-December when the Blue Devils blew a 17-point, second-half lead and bowed at Michigan, 81-73. They won 14 games by 30 points or more, but squandered the same 17-point cushion in the South Regional final against Kentucky. . . . Virginia (11-19), incurring its most defeats in 35 years, lost to heavy underdog Liberty despite Cavalier guard Curtis Staples finishing his career as the NCAA's most prolific three-point shooter. . . . South Florida, coached by Seth Greenberg, compiled a modest 17-13 record but was 9-0 in games decided by fewer than five points.
Louisville set a school record for most defeats (12-20 record), but the Cardinals ended archrival Kentucky's 39-game homecourt winning streak against nonconference opponents, 79-76. Louisville didn't have a player finish among the 15 honorees on Conference USA's all-league team. It was the first time the Cardinals didn't place an individual on a first- or second-team all-league squad since they joined the MVC in 1964-65. . . . Kentucky showed it was going through another quick reloading after losing the firepower of Derek Anderson and Ron Mercer. Seven different players led the Wildcats in scoring in their first 10 games. An eighth player, reserve Cameron Mills, supplied a season-high 31 points with eight three-pointers in a game against Florida. . . . UK's Tubby Smith became the first man to coach one son against another son--point guards Saul Smith (Kentucky freshman) and G.G. Smith (Georgia junior). . . . Auburn hit 14 of 21 three-point attempts en route to a 94-40 shelling of intrastate rival Alabama. The 54-point margin fell just two points short of tying Auburn's record for the most lopsided victory in school history set in 1906. . . . Arkansas' Nick Davis set a school single-game record with 23 rebounds against Jackson State. . . . Ole Miss (12-1) got off to its best start in 72 years. The Rebels posted their first victory at Kentucky in 71 years, 73-64, en route to their only finish in a final wire-service Top 20 poll in the 20th Century.
Lefty Driesell's 16 triumphs for Georgia State enabled him to become the only active coach to hold three existing school single-season records for most victories. He previously set standards at Davidson (27-3 in 1968-69) and Maryland (27-5 in 1971-72). . . . A one-point loss to visiting Lafayette prevented Navy from becoming the first school to improve its conference record six straight years. The Midshipmen, finishing 10-2 in Patriot League play for the second consecutive campaign under coach Don DeVoe, started the streak after going 1-13 in 1992. . . . Guard Greg Stephens' 39 points against VMI was the highest by an East Tennessee State player since 1960. . . . Old Dominion's Mark Poag nailed all nine of his three-point attempts against visiting VMI. . . . William & Mary won 20 games in the regular season for the first time in 38 years. . . . Northeast Louisiana's string of first- or second-place finishes in the Southland Conference under coach Mike Vining ended at 10 in a row. . . . Texas Southern won the SWAC regular-season crown despite having an overall losing record (15-16).
Bill Carmody became the first coach since the start of the NCAA Tournament to compile back-to-back undefeated conference records in his first two seasons (with Princeton in Ivy League). Tigers captain Mitch Henderson, an All-Ivy League second-team selection, went on to coach his alma mater. . . . St. John's became the first school to make a total of 50 national postseason tournament appearances. . . . Seton Hall stunned Syracuse, 85-61, to post the Pirates' first victory in Syracuse since 1951. The Orangemen were 11-3 in games decided by fewer than six points, capping a nine-year span when they won more than 70% of their contests in that category under coach Jim Boeheim. . . . Brothers Jeff Greer of Rutgers and Ricardo Greer of Pittsburgh were All-Big East Rookie Team selections. . . . St. Bonaventure snapped a 20-game losing streak in its series with Massachusetts. . . . First-year coach Paul Hewitt steered Siena to six decisions of fewer than three points in one seven-game stretch. . . . Colgate coach Jack Bruen died of pancreatic cancer just before Christmas. . . . Howard lost 20 games for the third consecutive campaign although Xavier Singletary set a school record with 38 points at North Carolina A&T.
Missouri, on the heels of big victories over Illinois and Maryland, suffered the Tigers' most lopsided defeat in history with a Big 12 Conference-opening 111-56 clobbering at Kansas State. Mizzou came back to clobber Kansas State by 30 points, 89-59, in their regular-season finale. Just over a week after the K-State debacle, the Tigers defeated a Kansas squad ranked third or better in the nation for the third time in four years. Kansas was without All-American forward Raef LaFrentz, who missed nine mid-season games after breaking his right index finger in a scrimmage. LaFrentz and fellow seniors Billy Thomas and C.B. McGrath were 58-0 at home. The Jayhawks were the only team in the 20th Century to win as many as 35 games but not reach the Final Four. . . . Tim Floyd relinquished the coaching reins at Iowa State for a tumultuous tenure with the NBA's Chicago Bulls before aligning with the New Orleans Hornets. Floyd posted a 243-130 record with Idaho, New Orleans and the Cyclones. He teamed with his father, Lee Floyd (246-147 at Southern Mississippi from 1950-54 and 1963-71), to become the only father-son head coaching combination in the 20th Century to each compile more than 240 college victories. . . . Scott Cross led Texas-Arlington in assists before eventually coaching his alma mater.
Eastern Michigan's Derrick Dial scored 45 points in a 99-82 victory over Marshall. . . . Coach Dan Hipsher dropped his first 13 games decided by fewer than four points with Akron until edging EMU, 69-67. . . . Penn State's 74-63 decision over Purdue was the Nittany Lions' first victory against a team ranked in the top five since 1948. . . . Ohio State's victory at Wisconsin ended the Buckeyes' school-record losing streak of 17 straight games, 14 to start the Big Ten season, 20 straight in the Big Ten and 19 straight on the road. . . . Ohio University (5-21) incurred its worst record since World War I. . . . Dayton's Ryan Perryman (12.5 rpg) had the lowest national-leading rebounding average since the NCAA began charting the statistic in 1951. . . . Valparaiso's Zoran Viskovic had a streak of 20 consecutive successful field goals. . . . Indiana State (16-11 under first-year Sycamores coach Royce Waltman) posted its first winning season since 1979-80. . . . Wichita State, 11-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference, ended a streak of eight consecutive losing league records. . . . Saint Louis freshman Larry Hughes set the C-USA single-game mark in league play with 40 points at Marquette.
Utah was unbeaten through January (18-0) until blowing an eight-point lead in the last 1 1/2 minutes and bowing at New Mexico, 77-74, on Royce Olney's three-pointer in the closing seconds. . . . Colorado State got off to its best start (12-1) since 1954. . . . Stanford got off to its best start in history (18-0) before losing to defending NCAA champion Arizona. The Cardinal, sweeping UCLA and Southern California in the same season for the first time since 1928-29, finished in the Top 10 of a final AP poll for the first time in school history.
Pacific center Michael Olowokandi hit his first 14 field-goal attempts before misfiring in a 78-65 victory over Pepperdine. . . . Guard Rodrigo de la Fuente was leading Washington State in scoring (16.1 ppg) midway through the campaign when he chose to bypass the remainder of his senior season to return to his native country and accept a guaranteed three-year contract to play professionally in Barcelona. . . . Southern California suffered its worst ever margin of defeat for consecutive home games--24 to Stanford and 30 to California. . . . UCLA junior center Jelani McCoy, the school's career leader in blocked shots, quit the team in mid-February. He had been suspended at the start of the season for unspecified team rules violations. The Bruins yielded their most points in the school's 79-year history when they were demolished at Duke, 120-84. . . . Arizona backup guard Josh Pastner eventually coached Memphis. . . . BYU was only 4-10 in WAC competition, but the Cougars snapped New Mexico's 41-game homecourt winning streak, 83-62. . . . TCU avenged a 21-point setback at New Mexico with a 31-point triumph over the Lobos, 95-64. . . . Hawaii was ranked for the first time in 24 years. . . . Portland State's Brian Towne hit 12 three-pointers in a 98-76 victory over Idaho State. . . . Eastern Washington posted a 10-6 mark in the Big Sky Conference after winning only 15 percent of its league outings over the previous seven seasons (16-88).
No independent institutions were at the NCAA Division I level this season just 20 years after there were as many as 70.
1998 NCAA Tournament
Summary: Bill Guthridge (North Carolina), Rick Majerus (Utah), Mike Montgomery (Stanford) and Tubby Smith (Kentucky) crossed over to the NCAA's "Promised Land" for the initial time in their coaching careers. Prior to this quartet converging on San Antonio, the only occasion in the previous 55 years that all of the Final Four coaches appeared for the first time was 1959 with Pete Newell (California), Fred Schaus (West Virginia), George Smith (Cincinnati) and Peck Hickman (Louisville). Kentucky and Utah reached the final although neither team had a player named a first-, second- or third-team All-American on the AP honor squad. No team ever had rallied from a double-digit halftime deficit to win the NCAA championship game until Kentucky erased Utah's 41-31 edge at intermission. The Utes had built their halftime cushion by outrebounding UK, 24-6, but they ran out of gas and missed 11 consecutive field-goal attempts in the last five minutes. The Wildcats also benefited from an experienced roster that combined for 49 points and 21 rebounds in a title-game defeat to Arizona the previous year. Kentucky's Jeff Sheppard scored a career-high 27 points against Stanford in a national semifinal overtime victory. Teammate Nazr Mohammed, a center who shed more than 60 pounds since attending high school, scored 17 second-half points against Stanford to help erase his 0-for-6 free-throw shooting in the 1997 final vs. Arizona. Utah made its first Final Four appearance in 32 years while Stanford made its first in 56 years. Wayne Turner had a splendid assist-to-turnover ratio during the playoffs and helped the "Rally Cats" come back from a 17-point deficit with 9 1/2 minutes remaining to beat Duke, 86-84, in the South Regional final. Duke, losing its first regional final in coach Mike K's eight trips that far, reeled off 17 unanswered points in the first half but played the last 5:21 without a timeout and was unable to break UK's momentum. Kentucky not only had a new coach in Smith, but its roster was without a couple of outstanding players (Ron Mercer and Antoine Walker) who could have been eligible if they hadn't left early for the NBA. UK was 33-0 when leading with two minutes remaining.
Outcome for Defending Champion: Arizona (17-1/1st in Pacific-10 two games ahead of Stanford). The Wildcats won each of their first two playoff games by wider margins than their cumulative differential in six postseason contests the previous year. Utah eliminated them in the West Regional final, 76-51, when Utes guard Andre Miller collected 18 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists while Arizona's vaunted perimeter trio of Michael Bibby, Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon combined for 6 of 36 field-goal shooting. Arizona was a team of amazing spurts. The Wildcats had a 27-0 run to start the second half vs. Kansas State, a 25-4 run vs. Arizona State, runs of 31-5 and 35-12 in separate games vs. Washington, a 39-13 run vs. Stanford, a 22-3 run vs. California and a 27-2 run vs. Illinois State.
Star Gazing: Kentucky and Stanford reached the Final Four after stunning second-half comebacks in regional finals. Kentucky erased a 17-point deficit with less than 10 minutes remaining against Duke. Stanford overcame a six-point deficit in the final minute against Rhode Island. Cardinal point guard Arthur Lee supplied 13 points in the last 2:04 against URI. . . . Stanford's Lee went on to convert all 35 of his free-throw attempts in five playoff games. . . . Sheppard (8.1 ppg), a seven-foot high jumper who was a Georgia state track champion in high school, became the first Final Four Most Outstanding Player since Indiana's Marv Huffman in 1940 to finish his career with a scoring average lower than 10 points per game. Sheppard wasn't selected in the NBA draft.
Biggest Upsets: Richmond (14) over South Carolina (3), 62-61, and Valparaiso (13) over Mississippi (4), 70-69. . . . Richmond threw another East Regional surprise party with a 62-61 victory over South Carolina. First-year Spiders coach John Beilein duplicated the playoff success enjoyed by former Richmond mentor Dick Tarrant, who gained a reputation as an East Regional giant-killer by becoming the only coach to win three first-round games with teams seeded 12th or worse. . . . Valparaiso's Jamie Sykes, an outfield prospect late for spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks, inbounded from the opposite baseline with 2.5 seconds remaining. He hurled a baseball pass that Bill Jenkins leaped to catch. Jenkins delivered a touch pass to guard Bryce Drew on the right wing, and Drew drilled a game-winning three-pointer.
One and Only: Kentucky became the only school to advance to the national semifinals the year after losing an underclassman NCAA consensus first-team All-American. Mercer left the Wildcats to declare for the NBA draft after his sophomore season the previous year when they also reached the Final Four. . . . Tubby Smith became the only coach to win an NCAA title only two years after his predecessor (Rick Pitino) achieved the feat. . . . Jimmy Collins became the only individual to coach in the NCAA Tournament (Illinois-Chicago) after leading his college in scoring in more than 10 NCAA playoff games (all 11 with New Mexico State from 1968 through 1970). . . . The only time the worst of two double-digit seeds won occurred when #13 Valparaiso upended #12 Florida State, 83-77, in the Midwest Regional. . . . Runner-up Utah is the only Final Four team ever to feature three Academic All-Americans among its regulars (Michael Doleac, Drew Hansen and Hanno Mottola).
Celebrity Status: Duke walk-on guard Jay Heaps, the No. 2 pick in the 1999 Major League Soccer (MLS) college draft, scored a basket against Radford in the opening round. . . . Sean Gregory, who played one minute for Princeton in the Tigers' 69-57 first-round victory against UNLV, became a TIME Magazine journalist. He wrote the cover story on America's gold medal-winning men's basketball Olympic "Redeem Team."
Numbers Game: Kentucky had a playoff-record 14 blocked shots in its 94-68 triumph over UCLA in the second round of the South Regional. . . . Shammond Williams and Ed Cota, North Carolina's standout starting guards, were scoreless in the first half vs. Utah in the national semifinals. Carolina, which shot a season-low 39 percent from the floor against the Utes, cut an early 16-point deficit to two before faltering. . . . Kansas was a 36-point point favorite over Prairie View, which did not have a winning season in 20 years. The Jayhawks pounded Prairie View by 58 points, the second-largest margin of victory in playoff history. But then they were eliminated in the second round by Rhode Island, 80-75, to fail to reach the regional final as a No. 1 seed for the fourth time since 1992. KU shot 5-of-28 from three-point range against URI, a team with only one player taller than 6-8. . . . Prairie View became the 19th different school from Texas to participate in the NCAA playoffs. No state sent more delegates to the tourney in the 20th Century. . . . Florida State received an at-large bid despite losing six of its last seven games. . . . Princeton's No. 5 seed in the East Regional was the best ever given an Ivy League representative. The Tigers' 20-game winning streak was snapped by Michigan State in the second round. . . . No. 10 seed West Virginia kayoed No. 2 seed Cincinnati, 75-74, in the West Regional despite being outrebounded by 22 boards and Mountaineers star Damien Owens hitting only 2 of 10 free throws. . . . Syracuse and New Mexico combined to hit fewer than 30 percent of their field-goal attempts in a 56-46 second-round victory for the Orangemen. . . . Saint Louis' Larry Hughes, acknowledged as the nation's premier freshman, hit only 29.4 percent of his field-goal attempts in two playoff games (10 of 34). . . . Senior guard Elijah Allen established Fairleigh Dickinson's Division I single-game scoring record with a tourney-high 43 points in a 93-85 loss to Connecticut in the first round of the East Regional. Allen entered the season with career averages of 7.2 points per game and 33.7 percent field-goal shooting. . . . Washington's Todd MacCulloch grabbed a playoff-high 18 rebounds against Richmond in the second round of the East Regional. . . . No conference received as many as six bids for the first time since the field expanded to 64 in 1985.
What Might Have Been: Stanford might not have lost to Kentucky in overtime in the national semifinals if future All-American center Jason Collins didn't miss the majority of the season after undergoing surgery on his left knee. . . . Kentucky might not have clobbered UCLA (24-9) in the South Regional semifinals if guard Baron Davis hadn't missed the game after suffering a severe knee injury on a dunk in the Bruins' previous game against Michigan. They were also without center Jelani McCoy, the school's career leader in blocked shots who quit the team in mid-February. Other teams that didn't advance as far as they possibly could have if not for injuries to key players were Michigan State (22-8/guard Thomas Kelley redshirted after foot surgery), New Mexico (24-8/three-point shooting guard Royce Olney suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the year), Illinois State (25-6/starting guard Skipp Schaefbauer suffered a broken leg in Missouri Valley Conference Tournament), South Alabama (21-7/guard Rusty Yoder underwent shoulder surgery) and Tennessee (20-8/center Charles Hathaway missed most of the season because of a blood clot in his right shoulder). . . . UNLV (20-13) could have been more of a force if center Keon Clark, an eventual NBA first-round draft choice, hadn't been suspended. . . . UNC Charlotte (20-11) might have given North Carolina an even more difficult time in the East Regional if forward Tremaine Gardiner did sit out the season because of a knee injury. . . . Rhode Island (25-9) reached the Midwest Regional final despite forward Lamar Odom failing to gain his eligibility after the regal recruit left UNLV because of academic deficiencies. . . . Cincinnati (27-6/without Danny Fortson), Michigan (25-9/Maurice Taylor), Temple (21-9/Marc Jackson), Washington (20-10/Mark Sanford) and West Virginia (24-9/Gordon Malone) might have fared better in the playoffs if standout players had exercised their remaining eligibility instead of defecting to the NBA. . . . Georgetown (16-15/without Allen Iverson), Georgia Tech (19-14/Stephon Marbury), Gonzaga (24-10/Paul Rogers) and Memphis (17-12/Lorenzen Wright) probably would have participated in the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT if vital players didn't leave school early for the NBA.
Putting Things in Perspective: Louisville set a school record for most defeats (12-20 record), but the Cardinals ended archrival Kentucky's 39-game homecourt winning streak against nonconference opponents, 79-76.
NCAA Champion Defeats: Neutral court vs. Arizona (15-point margin), Louisville (3), Florida (8), and Mississippi (9). The highest-scoring output by an individual opponent against Kentucky during the season was 28 points by Alabama's Brian Williams in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
Scoring Leader: Michael Doleac, Utah (115 points, 19.2 ppg).
Highest Scoring Average: Khalid El-Amin (93 points, 23.3 ppg).
Rebounding Leader: Antawn Jamison, North Carolina (63 rebounds, 12.6 rpg).
Michael Doleac, C, Sr., Utah (31 points, 15 rebounds)
Arthur Lee, G, Jr., Stanford (26 points and five assists in one game)
Andre Miller, G, Jr., Utah (32 points, 20 rebounds, 12 assists)
Scott Padgett, F, Jr., Kentucky (27 points, 11 rebounds)
*Jeff Sheppard, G, Sr., Kentucky (43 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists)
*Named Most Outstanding Player.
Championship Team Results
First Round: Kentucky 82 (Mohammed team-high 18 points), South Carolina State 67 (Blakney 23)
Second Round: Kentucky 88 (Sheppard 18), Saint Louis 61 (Heinrich 16)
Regional Semifinal: Kentucky 94 (Padgett 19), UCLA 68 (Johnson 18)
Regional Final: Kentucky 86 (Sheppard 18), Duke 84 (McLeod 19)
National Semifinal: Kentucky 86 (Sheppard 27), Stanford 85 (Lee 26)*
Championship Game: Kentucky 78 (Padgett 17), Utah 69 (Miller 16)