(11) UTEP 54

(27-8, 14-4 WAC)

(6) Utah 60

(28-5, 13-1 MW)

    3:05 PM ET, March 17, 2005

    McKale Center, Tucson, Arizona

    1 2 T
    #11UTEP 25 2954
    #6UTAH 30 3060

    Top Performers

    UTEP: O. Thomas 24 Pts, 2 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

    Utah: A. Bogut 24 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Blk

    Sixth-seeded Utes hold on after losing 13-point lead

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Call this one a road win for Utah. Neutral court? No way. UTEP might as well have been playing at home with the raucous following from El Paso that packed McKale Center on Thursday.

    With the deafening crowd against them, the Utes escaped with a 60-54 first-round NCAA Tournament victory thanks to a brilliant bit of defense by Tim Drisdom and a critical rebound from an exhausted Andrew Bogut.

    Utah led 56-54 when UTEP's lightning-fast point guard Filiberto Rivera drove the lane. Drisdom stripped the ball away, then was fouled by Rivera. The Utah junior's two free throws made it 58-54 with 15.4 seconds to play.

    "I kind of took a gamble and came up with the steal," Drisdom said. "It was a little luck, a little defense."

    Jason Williams tried to score inside, but Bogut got a piece of the ball, then saved the rebound as he crashed to the floor. Marc Jackson's two free throws with 5.6 seconds to go sealed a victory that left the Utes 6-0 in NCAA Tournament games at McKale Center.

    Utah (28-5) has won 23 of its last 25.

    Bogut, who played all 40 minutes, had 24 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, but the Australian 7-footer, who could be the first player taken in this year's NBA draft if he turns pro as expected, was just 2-for-4 shooting in the second half and made only 4-of-10 free throws. He didn't have a field goal in the final 17 minutes of the game.

    "When they have three guys guarding him, you're not going to get him the ball," Utah coach Ray Giacoletti said.

    Bogut acknowledged it was one of his roughest outings.

    "It's just something I've got to deal with," he said. "They try to get in my head and make me do things I'm not accustomed to doing. I've just got to work through that."

    The Utes' attempts to get the ball inside resulted in several of their 18 turnovers. Bryant Markson was the only other Ute in double figures with 10 points.

    Omar Thomas, one of the great stories of the Tournament after overcoming a childhood in which his father and two brothers were imprisoned for murder, scored 24 in his final collegiate game, many of the points coming in drives around the slower Bogut.

    "I take everybody like that pretty much," Thomas said. "I knew he wasn't that fast going side to side so I tried to go around him."

    Rivera added 11 points for the Miners (27-8).

    The sixth-seeded Utes play Oklahoma on Saturday in the second round of the Austin Regional. The Sooners beat Niagara 84-67 in the first Tucson game Thursday.

    McKale Center was packed and rocking, mostly with orange-clad Miners fans who made the 4-hour drive to watch their team go for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1992.

    "When I went out there, I was shocked at how much orange there was," Giacoletti said.

    The 11th-seeded Miners dug out of a 13-point second-half deficit to tie it three times but never could take the lead, despite several opportunities.

    "We got ourselves down a little but, and then we fought and fought," UTEP coach Doc Sadler said.

    After a near-steal by the Miners, Marc Jackson's 15-foot jumper rattled in to put Utah ahead 56-54 with 39.5 seconds to play.

    Bogut was magnificent in the first half with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including 2-of-3 3-pointers, but UTEP's aggressive defense shut him down for most of the second half, holding him scoreless for nearly 12 minutes.

    Markson and Richard Chaney sank consecutive 3s to give Utah its biggest lead, 44-31, with 14:35 to play.

    That's when the Miners, with the crowd roaring its support, revved up their defense. Utah committed four turnovers in a row and UTEP outscored the Utes 15-2 to tie it at 46 on Giovanni St. Amant's steal and layup with 7:24 remaining. UTEP tied it twice more, the last time at 54 on Thomas' basket around an obviously tired Bogut with 1:10 to play.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 54 60
    FG Made-Attempted 22-53 (.415) 21-49 (.429)
    3P Made-Attempted 2-9 (.222) 6-24 (.250)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-9 (.889) 12-20 (.600)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 7 13


    » Mar 17, 2005 @UTAH 60, UTEP 54Recap