KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Virginia coach Jeff Jones knows North Carolina from more than a decade of facing the Tar Heels in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was introduced to Arkansas in the Midwest Regional final.
Any prediction on how the NCAA semifinal between Arkansas and North Carolina will turn out?
"I'd say the key to the game is how it's officiated," Jones said. "North Carolina can shoot 40 free throws if the officials don't get bored."
That was a mild knock at Arkansas, which is ending the season more aggressively than it began.
"Massachusetts shot 55 free throws on us [40, actually], and that destroyed my team," coach Nolan Richardson said of a season-opening 104-80 loss to the Minutemen. "We were afraid to attack, afraid to press, afraid to play defense.
"We started winning, but we were playing soft," Richardson said. "Then we lost to Alabama, and I told our guys, 'Foul out of every game if you have to, but keep playing hard.' "
a,4 Yesterday's 68-61 win over Virginia was a war of attrition, as 10 Razorbacks were called for personals.
"John Thompson called me and said all the coaches who play pretty basketball are home, so keep playing ugly," Richardson said.
Arkansas' only NCAA tournament loss over three years was to North Carolina in 1993, but Richardson saved his loudest praise for the Southeastern Conference.
"The SEC prepared the Razorbacks the last two years," he said. "They have the best athletes in the country and some pretty good coaches."
Burrough finishes strong
Junior Burrough, the Virginia senior center whose physical nature would fit in nicely with Arkansas, finished a solid career that was filled with family misfortune.
Burrough, whose condition the past two years was affected by injuries, came into this season in superb shape despite his mind being elsewhere. Burrough, who lost his mother when he was 12, had an uncle die of AIDS last fall and saw a brother jailed for robbing a convenience store.
Burrough, who had his 11th double-double of the season, was named to the all-Midwest Regional team along with teammate Harold Deane, Corliss Williamson and Scotty Thurman of Arkansas and Mingo Johnson of Memphis.
Arkansas is making its third trip to the Final Four in the 1990s. . . . Williamson's 270 points are the 12th-highest total in tournament history. . . . Freshman Curtis Staples finished the season with 103 three-pointers, a Virginia record.