UConn, 'Bama arrange showdown

Friday, March 26, 2004

Ben Gordon lost his footing climbing the steps to the stage for a postgame interview and banged his knee. That's about the only thing that went wrong for Connecticut.

UConn hit from outside, pounded the ball inside and just plain dominated Vanderbilt most of the night. Now the Huskies are a win from becoming the Final Four team they were expected to be.

Gordon had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists and UConn beat the cold-shooting Commodores 73-53 in the semifinals of the Phoenix Regional on Thursday night.

The second-seeded Huskies (30-6) advanced to Saturday's regional final against eighth-seeded Alabama, which defeated defending Syracuse.

"A team has to beat us," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "I don't want to lose."

Rashad Anderson had 15 points and Emeka Okafor added 12 points and 11 boards for the Huskies, who staved off a 16-3 second-half spurt by Vandy that cut the lead to 52-45 with 12:07 to play.

Matt Freije, the Commodores' career scoring leader, shot 3-of-18 for eight points after scoring 31 points against North Carolina State in the second round.

Alabama 80, Syracuse 71Alabama, a No. 8 seed, beat the defending national champions just five days after stunning top-seededed Stanford.

Kennedy Winston and Earnest Shelton put Alabama (20-12) ahead from the outside in the first half, then Chuck Davis got rough inside in the second and the Crimson Tide is in an NCAA regional final for the first time in the school's history.

Shelton scored 22 points and Winston 19 for Alabama, but the difference maker was Davis, who scored 17 of his 19 in the second half.

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