Michael Doleac drives
vs. Sunday Adebayo
March 14, 1998
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - For a point guard considered second-best in the West by his coach, Utah's Andre Miller was more than good enough against Arkansas.
Fighting through the Razorbacks' fullcourt press, Miller scored a career-high 28 points as the No. 3 Utes defeated sixth-seeded Arkansas 75-69 in the second round of the NCAA tournament Saturday.
The junior, playing the final 6:25 with four fouls, had 18 points and hit 8-of-9 free throws in the second half when the Hogs (24-9) came within three points three times.
"I had to be aggressive if we were going to win," said Miller, one of just three upperclassmen on Utah's roster.
The Utes (27-3) advanced to next week's West Regional in Anaheim, Calif., where they'll play 10th-seeded West Virginia, a 75-74 upset winner over No. 2 Cincinnati.
"It was Miller time," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said. "Of all the guards we've played against, and we've played with good ones, he's the guy that made all the plays."
Miller usually takes a back seat to 6-foot-11 Michael Doleac, whose career-high 15-of-17 free throws beat San Francisco in the first round. But Doleac didn't match up with Arkansas' quick press and he finished with 16 points, going just 1-for-5 from the field in the second half.
"You just can't say enough about Andre taking care of the pressure and holding onto the ball," Doleac said. "He did a great job in getting the ball up the floor."
Utah coach Rick Majerus pulled Miller aside for a pregame chat.
"You're the second-best point guard in the West and I want you to play that way," he told Miller. "There's only one better and it's (Arizona's Mike) Bibby. I just put that light totally green."
Derek Hood and Kareem Reid scored 16 points each for the Razorbacks, back in the tournament after settling for an NIT bid last year.
Pat Bradley, Arkansas' 3-point sharpshooter and leading scorer with a 15.1 average, had just five points and fouled out with 4:05 remaining.
His only 3-pointer drew the Hogs within three for the final time at 4:57.
"They bumped him every time he made a move," Richardson said. "Pat doesn't have the quickness and speed to play that kind of game. He's not the kind to create his own shot."
The Hogs got no closer the rest of the way as Miller scored 10 points over the final 4:05 while Doleac, who had three fouls, struggled.
"Those guys are quick and they really get up in your shorts," Doleac said. "We got a little impatient, but down the stretch Andre handled the press well."
The Hogs wanted to be fast and out of control, figuring tempo would make up for their poor ballhandling that led to 22 turnovers against Nebraska in the first round. They cut their miscues in half against the Utes, and it still wasn't enough.
"Our game plan in the second half was to press. They were able to adjust and move through the press," Reid said. "We were chasing them all over the court, but it just didn't make a difference."
The Utes scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half, stretching a nine-point halftime lead to 15.
Dealt a huge blow when Bradley picked up his third and fourth fouls in the next minute, the Hogs only became more determined. Faced with having to get back in the game without their leading scorer, they did.
Ali Thompson dunked and the Hogs were off on a 17-5 run that pulled them within three with 10:45 remaining. Tarik Wallace had five points and Hood four as the Hogs' full-court press forced the Utes into nine turnovers during a 10-minute stretch featuring the wild style Arkansas favors. Utah ended up with 20 turnovers, including five by Doleac.
"It's a hard style to play against," Majerus said. "I don't think they know where they're going to double next and where they're going to attack. They're just so disruptive. They're so quick, we couldn't duplicate that in practice in a million years."
Bradley finally got his first points of the game on two free throws that drew the Hogs within four at 7:37. Drew Hansen, playing with four fouls, hit two free throws and Miller scored to keep Utah ahead by eight.
Bradley, whose five 3-pointers helped beat Nebraska, hit a 3-pointer that cut Utah's lead to three with 4:47 remaining. But he fouled Miller on a drive to the basket for his fifth foul at 4:05.
Miller missed the free throw and Jensen put back the rebound for a 65-56 lead. The Hogs, national champions in 1994, runners-up in 1995 and a final 16 team in 1996, got no closer than six after that.
Arkansas didn't look so strong coming into this year's tournament, losing three of its final four games, including a 99-74 defeat to Kentucky in the SEC tournament.
No opponent has shot 50 percent against Utah this season. The Hogs shot 42 percent, although they did scored 12 points more than what Utah's defense had allowed.