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Final Four Memories

1998 NCAA Men's Tournament

  Kansas Leaves 'Heels Dejected, Smith Ejected

By Steve Berkowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 31, 1991; Page D1


Kansas Coach Roy Williams has always dreamed of the chance to play for the national championship, but this was not the way he wanted to get it -- not against his mentor, North Carolina Coach Dean Smith, and certainly not with Smith leaving the court in humiliation, ejected.

However, that is the way it worked out today. The Jayhawks completed a circuitous three-year journey back to the NCAA tournament championship game by defeating North Carolina, 79-73, before a Final Four crowd of 47,100 at the Hoosier Dome.

And Smith, for whom Williams worked as an assistant for 10 years before moving to Kansas in 1988, received his second technical foul of the game from official Pete Pavia with 35 seconds to play. Smith said it was the third ejection of his career, and "kind of embarrassing, being a Kansas alumnus."

It took the edge off a moment that should have belonged to Williams and his players -- not a controversy that had little effect on the game's outcome.

"It spoiled it at the time, and it spoils it a little bit now because that's the only thing people are going to talk about," Williams said.

Tonight, at least, people were not talking about Kansas's refusal to wilt after surrendering all but one point of the 10-point lead it held with 15 minutes to play. They were not talking about the 14 points freshman forward Richard Scott scored in 16 minutes one day after aggravating a sprained ankle. And they were talking very little about how the Jayhawks (27-7) will have an opportunity to win their second national championship in four years on Monday night, when they play Duke.

Instead, the focus was on Smith and the technicals.

He received the first one with 2:58 left in the first half for arguing a foul called against senior center Pete Chilcutt. Senior guard King Rice, who was on the bench at the time, termed the call against Smith "really ridiculous."

":Smith: just said, 'They're pushing us too. They're pushing us too,' " Rice said. "And he gets a technical."

Williams agreed that Smith did not deserve it. "I don't think he was saying enough to get that technical. I heard what he said."

The second one was indisputable, according to NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee Chairman Jim Delany and NCAA officiating coordinator Hank Nichols.

It came after senior forward Rick Fox was called for a disqualifying fifth foul. Smith said he left the coaching box to walk a substitute to the scorer's table and buy time for his team.

The coaching box is a designated area along the sideline that coaches are not supposed to leave except to break up a fight, or to seek information from the scorer or timer during a timeout or intermission. The penalty for leaving the box otherwise is a technical foul.

But Smith contended that in a dead-ball situation -- here, the break in play caused by Fox fouling out -- he is entitled to leave the box. Pavia differed, and was backed up by Delany and Nichols.

"It's not a matter of a rules interpretation or clarification," Delany told a pool reporter. "The coach may not be out of the box, even in a dead-ball situation, or substitution in this case."

In an interview with CBS Sports, which is televising the tournament, he said: "It's a clear violation of the coaching box rule."

Whatever, after being told to leave, Smith paused to shake hands and exchange warm words with Williams. He then shook hands with virtually everyone else on the Kansas bench before departing.

"He said the he didn't mean for it to end that way and that we had played very well and that he was happy for us," Williams said.

With good reason. Since winning the title in 1988, they have been through the coaching change from Larry Brown to Williams, sanctions for NCAA rules violations that prevented them defending the '88 title and a second-round dismissal from last year's tournament after spending 13 consecutive weeks of the regular season ranked No. 1 or No. 2.

With Kansas leading, 53-43, and 15 minutes to play, North Carolina outscored the Jayhawks 14-5 the next seven minutes to move within 58-57. The run was aided by Kansas forward Alonzo Jamison's departure because of four fouls with a little less than 15 1/2 minutes left.

But the Tar Heels, who got a game-high 25 points from swingman Hubert Davis of Burke, Va., never could take the lead. After failing to score on three possessions with a chance to move in front, they fell to a quick 7-0 spurt that forced them to call a timeout with 5 1/2 minutes to play.

Sean Tunstall made it 61-57 with a three-point goal that was Kansas's second basket in nearly nine minutes. Fox missed a jumper, and Scott made a layup off a beautiful interior feed from center Mark Randall. Adonis Jordan then knocked away a pass by Rice. Tunstall scooped up the ball, and passed to Jordan for a fast-break layup making the score 65-57.

The Jayhawks extended their lead to 67-57, then made just enough free throws in the final minutes to keep the desperately pressing Tar Heels at bay.

© Copyright 1991 The Washington Post Company

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