UCLA (30-2) vs. ARKANSAS (32-6)
Site/Time: Kingdome, Seattle, tonight, 8:40 p.m.
TV/Radio: Channels 13, 9/WBAL (1090 AM)
It will come down to whether the Bruins can stop Corliss Williamson around the basket and the Razorbacks can prevent the O'Bannon brothers from driving to the basket. Williamson was too strong for North Carolina's Rasheed Wallace, and should be too quick for Bruins center George Zidek. The matchup of Charles O'Bannon and Scotty Thurman will be interesting since the UCLA sophomore is coming off one of his best shooting games (19 points on 7 of 9) and the Arkansas junior is coming off one of his worst (2 of 10, including 2 of 9 on threes). Razorbacks center Elmer Martin, with help from Darnell Robinson off the bench, should be more than able to handle Zidek.
The status of Tyus Edney's sprained right wrist could be the biggest factor of all. If Edney has problems dribbling and shooting, it could be a long night for the Bruins. But if the wrist doesn't bother him too much, it could be a long night for the Arkansas guards. Small, quick guards have given Corey Beck problems this year, and the Razorbacks might have to try putting Clint McDaniel on Edney, with Beck on freshman Toby Bailey. McDaniel's a streaky shooter.
The Bruins don't go past freshman forward/center J. R. Henderson and sophomore guard Cameron Dollar, but that's usually been enough. Henderson is an explosive scorer at times, and Dollar could play a big role if Edney isn't 100 percent. Dollar tTC is the team's defensive catalyst, but his offensive game is geared around what Edney does. The Razorbacks might have been the deepest team in the country this year, going 10 or 11 deep at times. But aside from senior forward Dwight Stewart, who had 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, Nolan Richardson didn't get much out of his reserves in Saturday's semifinal.
Jim Harrick is where Nolan Richardson was a year ago. He's won a lot of games, but never The Big One. A disciple of John Wooden -- he was an assistant to former Wooden assistant Gary Cunningham -- Harrick made a great move Saturday by going to a zone and shutting off Oklahoma State's Bryant Reeves in the semis. Until then, he might have been out-coached by Eddie Sutton. Richardson does things his own way, like his team shooting 36 threes against North Carolina despite having a tremendous size advantage on the Tar Heels.
Again, it might come down to how the game is called. The rumor in Seattle yesterday was that at least two Big East refs will be doing the final, which means the "No Autopsy, No Foul" rule could be in effect.
Key to win
Defensively for Arkansas, it will be the ability to press Edney and keep him from penetrating to the basket as well as hitting. Offensively, it will be the Razorbacks hitting their threes and mixing it up by going inside to Williamson. For UCLA, they have to get either Williamson, Beck or Thurman in foul trouble and force Richardson to go to his bench.