Unlv To Try On Jackets For Size

Posted: March 31, 1990

DENVER — This seems like the perfect place for a Wild West shoot-out.

Georgia Tech (28-6) might be outmanned when they play Nevada-Las Vegas tonight in the NCAA Tournament semifinals (Channel 10, 8:05), but they will not be outgunned.

Tech coach Bobby Cremins seems willing to play five-on-three, as long as his three are Dennis Scott, Kenny Anderson and Brian Oliver.

Scott, Anderson and Oliver, "Lethal Weapon 3," combined for 89 points last Sunday during a 93-91 victory over Minnesota in the Southeast Regional Championship.

And, despite the fact Cremins only uses six players, the Yellow Jackets seem willing to gamble their strengths against a deeper, more talented team that loves to run and already has put 131 points on the board against Loyola Marymount in the West Regional final.

UNLV (33-5) appears to have all the ingredients necessary to succeed in this Mile High city. But Scott refuses to wave a white flag.

"UNLV isn't really intimidating," he said. "Duke and North Carolina put on just as much defensive pressure. They growl when they get a rebound, but that's college basketball. Trash talk is part of the game. I never talk on the floor. I let my performance speak for itself."

It spoke volumes last Sunday when Scott dropped 40 against Minnesota. The Great Scott, a 6-8 junior who is arguably the best long-range shooter in

college basketball, is averaging 27.6 points.

But he could be washed out by the time he finishes dealing with the thin air and UNLV's defensive stopper Stacey Augmon. Augmon, a 6-8 junior with exceptional quickness and long, gangly arms, will likely draw the assignment on Scott whenever UNLV decides to match up in a man-to-man.

Augmon put the clamps on Arizona's Sean Elliott last year in the West Regional semifinals here. If he bottles up Scott, Tech will be down to Lethal Weapon 2 and Cremins will have to look to Oliver for increased productivity.

Oliver, a 6-4 senior, has had a good season since Cremins moved him to off guard from the point, where he had only average success last season. Oliver responded by averaging 21.2 points and 6.1 rebounds. He was selected MVP of the ACC Tournament after scoring 70 points in Tech's wins over North Carolina State, Duke and Virginia.

But he is far from healthy.

Oliver suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle in December, but has played in all but one game. Just when the injury appeared to be getting better, Oliver aggravated it in the ACC final against the Cavaliers.

"I planted my foot and it popped," he said. "The only thing for it is rest. Offensively, it hurts me a lot. I just try to block it out."

Oliver says the injury is more painful when he pushes off for a shot. It caused him to come up short on several attempts in the regional.

"Brian's just not the same," Cremins said. "What we miss most is his offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. He was hobbling around in the Michigan State game. The Minnesota game he was there more than the previous three games. Injuries are part of it, but we need Brian."

Tech trainer Crandall Woodson claims Oliver is 65-70 percent now. Oliver placed that number at 70-75 percent yesterday.

"The problem is it gets inflamed and gets sore," Woodson said. "He's been able to tolerate the soreness quite well. He can't stand a lot of

pressure on it. It's very painful.

"It's also a fairly constant pain. It's incredible the things he has gone through."

Oliver is just trying to grin and bear it. He worked out with the team for an hour yesterday and did not go hard.

There is little question Georgia Tech will have to go hard and get at least 80 points from Lethal Weapon 3 if it hopes to deal with the Rebels. UNLV might have a bandit reputation, but it can run and gun with the best of them, averaging 93.3 points.

The Rebels, who added 6-8 junior college beast Larry Johnson to the roster this year, have the quickest, most talented frontcourt in the Final Four. All three starters - Johnson, Augmon and 6-9 senior David Butler - could eventually be first-round picks. And, when guard Anderson Hunt is shooting the ball, they have the best balance in the field.

UNLV is battle-tested on and off the court. It has been forced to cope with injuries, suspensions, ineligiblities, chicken pox, bomb threats and a coach who has been at war with the NCAA for almost 20 years. But, if lead guard Greg Anthony's jaw (he broke it earlier this year) stays wired and Butler and Johnson stay out of foul problem, they could see the end of the rainbow.

Georgia Tech seems combat weary after two emotional games in the Southeast. Even Anderson, who made the dramatic, controversial shot at the buzzer to force an overtime with Michigan State, seems tired.

"It's been rough because of the travel," he said. "I didn't think it would be like this."

At the beginning of the season, no one at Georgia Tech thought this would be a fantasy year. Certainly, no one knew the Yellow Jackets would win the ACC Tournament.

"We were picked to lose a lot of games this year," Oliver said. "We were picked as an underdog going into every game of the tournament.

"I don't think we've ever gotten the credit we deserve for getting this far."

Two more wins could change that forever.

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