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For Texas, a rematch worth remembering

March 17, 1997

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Louisville and Texas will meet for the second time this season when they play Friday in the East Regional semifinals in Syracuse.

Louisville, ranked 10th at the time, won 85-78 in overtime on Jan. 19 in Austin over the then-No. 23 Longhorns. Coach Tom Penders still disputes the finish.

Penders argued at his post-game news conference Sunday that Eric Johnson’s tying 3-pointer came after the final buzzer, not before it. Louisville rallied from 15 points down to win, with freshman Norm Johnson scoring 21 points. Reggie Freeman led Texas with 34 points.

Penders feared Texas might in for another such loss Sunday when Coppin State’s Reggie Welch banked in a 3-pointer down the stretch, but the Longhorns held on to win. ``I started to think, `Is this going to happen again?′ ″ Penders said.

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BAND ON THE RUN: As Texas coach Tom Penders pointed out, about 16,800 of the 17,000-plus fans in the Civic Arena were for Coppin State _ including some of the Eagles’ biggest rivals.

Coppin State, a campus with only nine buildings and 3,500 students, doesn’t have its own pep band, so it appropriated that of rival Morgan State.

The Morgan State band even wore Coppin State T-shorts, though some admitted it was akin to a Texas fan pulling on an Oklahoma shirt.

``It did feel funny,″ band director Melvin Miles said. ``But this was a bigger thing than a school rivalry.″

``There’s a closeness in the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference),″ band member Dameon Fletcher said. ``It was very exciting to be here.″

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NO-NAME WITH O GAMES: Coppin State coach Ron ``Fang″ Mitchell wonders if his school’s newfound notoriety will make it easier _ or more difficult still _ to schedule games.

The only non-MEAC Division I school to play at Coppin this season was Duquesne, the host school for the East Regional in Pittsburgh. Coppin State won 91-57 on Dec. 10 in the first live telecast of an Eagles’ home game.

``We have trouble scheduling home games,″ Mitchell said after his team’s 82-81 NCAA East Regional loss Sunday to Texas. ``We have trouble scheduling away games. Our neighbor, Maryland, won’t play us. They’ll play everybody except us. Georgetown won’t play us. I do give credit to the Big 12, which does allow us to come out there and play.

``But Texas is in the Big 12, and I wonder if we will still be able to go out there and play.″

Coppin State played at, and lost to, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas State and Illinois this season.

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IT AIN’T OVER ’TIL ...: It’s over! It’s over! It’s over ... isn’t it?

There was momentary confusion at the end of Louisville’ 64-63 East Regional victory Sunday over New Mexico, mostly because some of the participants didn’t think it was over.

Louisville guard B.J. Flynn rebounded David Gibson’s driving layup with two seconds left as three Lobos converged around him. Just as the final horn sounded, one official appeared to call a foul.

As the Cardinals began to celebrate, coach Denny Crum began waving wildly, fearing a technical if the game wasn’t over.

It was. The three officials conferred briefly before running off the court in tandem, without offering an explanation for the non-foul or their brief huddle.

``I didn’t know the officials had left,″ Crum said. ``I was concerned about getting a technical, because I’ve seen that happen.″

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CRUM’S COUNTDOWN: Louisville coach Denny Crum needs six more wins to tie his mentor, former UCLA coach John Wooden, for second place in NCAA tournament coaching victories.

Crum’s 41st victory Sunday moved him past Indiana coach Bob Knight, whose team lost Friday to Colorado. Wooden has 47 victories, 16 fewer than record-holder Dean Smith of North Carolina.

Wooden’s teams won 10 national championships, to Smith’s two, but none came in a tournament field larger than 32 teams. North Carolina has reached the tournament every year since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

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DOG DAY AFTERNOONS: It was the underdogs’ day _ actually, two days _ in Pittsburgh. Of the six subregional games, three were won by the lower-seeded team, including No. 15 Coppin State’s remarkable upset of second-seeded South Carolina.

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TALKIN’ TALL: Not surprisingly, Coppin State was the darling of the Pittsburgh fans, getting a thunderous standing ovation Sunday just for showing up at the Civic Arena.

The Coppin fans stood throughout the warmups, singing and chanting _ and drawing the attention of Texas guard Brandy Perryman.

``You’d better cheer now,″ Perryman said, looking over his shoulder to the Eagles’ fans, most of whom didn’t hear him.