RICHMOND, Va. - He was the one most feared by the Mississippi Valley State coaching staff and players, the one who figured to ruin whatever upset hopes the Delta Devils possessed in the NCAA East Regional.
Georgetown sophomore Allen Iverson was the dominant topic of Thursday's news conference and an even bigger presence in yesterday's opening-round game, making the spectacular seem routine on his way to 31 points in the No. 2 seeded Hoyas' 93-56 defeat of 15th-seeded Mississippi Valley State at the Richmond Coliseum.
The mercurial 6-foot-1 guard was everything the Delta Devils (22-7) imagined, and then some.
He blew down the lane and along the baseline for layups, leaving defenders flatfooted and helpless. He twisted and spun to free himself for other shots, or stepped back and hit three-pointers. He dribbled behind his back and between his legs, and threw down a couple of dunks that made the crowd gasp. And he rarely missed, going 13-for-18 from the field.
"This Iverson kid is in another world," said Mississippi Valley coach Lafayette Stribling.
Said center Marcus Mann: "He did stuff against us that other guards haven't done all year."
Iverson left to a standing ovation with 12: 25 remaining after soaring along the baseline for a one-handed jam, but he wasn't done. There still was time for another reverse layup, and another full-court sprint that ended with his last two points and a final salute from the crowd as he departed with 4: 22 to play.
"Really, this game wasn't easy," Iverson said. "They have a lot of great athletes and we just wanted to be focused and play them like we'd play any other team."
Said Stribling: "He's probably the best guard in the nation. I know he's one of the quickest."
Georgetown (27-7) dispatched the Delta Devils with similar speed, using an early 22-3 run to set up tomorrow's game against No. 7 seed New Mexico (28-4).
N. Mexico 69, Kan. State 48
Sophomore forward Clayton Shields had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and New Mexico pulled away in the second half to defeat No. 10 seed Kansas State (17-12).
Junior guard Charles Smith added 15 points and junior forward Greg Shornstein 14 for the Lobos. New Mexico got away with shooting 41 percent from the field and being out-rebounded, 42-35.
The Lobos were ahead by one at halftime and led 43-41 with 13: 34 left before closing with a 26-7 burst.15-for-52 (28.8 percent) from the field, including 6-for-25 in the second half. Guard Elliot Hatcher was their only double-figure scorer with 14 points.
Texas Tech 74, N. Illinois 73
The team with the nation's longest winning streak wanted to make short work of Northern Illinois, but it wasn't that simple.
Third-seeded Texas Tech couldn't score from farther away than a couple feet for most of the first half. If it wasn't a dunk or a layup, it wasn't going through.
Worse, the Red Raiders almost couldn't hold off the 14th-seeded Huskies (20-10), whose upset bid fell short.
Senior forward Jason Sasser had 21 points for the Red Raiders (29-1), who have won 22 in a row. Northern Illinois junior Chris Coleman scored 24 of his 28 points after halftime.
Texas Tech hadn't been victorious in a tournament game before last night since 1976.
28-for-67 (41.8 percent) from the field. "When you shoot well, you can cover up a lot of mistakes."
Four of the Red Raiders' first five baskets were jams; the other came on a follow. They didn't score from the outside until reserve Cory Carr made a three-pointer with 8: 45 left in the half that broke a 15-15 tie. He struck again from beyond the arc for a 25-17 lead, but his were the only field goals that weren't from close range.
Northern Illinois appeared to fall from contention, but caught fire and got the lead down to four points in the final minute and 72-70 with 11 seconds left. Sasser then made two free throws before the Huskies' Vaurice Patterson hit from behind the arc as time expired.
Carolina 83, New Orleans 62
New Orleans coach Tic Price said he was looking for more than a victory over North Carolina. He also wanted an autograph from Tar Heels coach Dean Smith to give to his mother.
Price will have to settle for the signature.
Recovering from a slow start, No. 6-seeded North Carolina overwhelmed the 11th-seeded Privateers.
Junior guard Jeff McInnis scored 25 points for the Tar Heels (21-10), who will meet third-seeded Texas Tech tomorrow. Senior guard Tyrone Garris led New Orleans (21-9), champion of the Sun Belt Conference, with 17 points.
The Tar Heels will try to reach the Sweet 16 for the 15th time in 16 years. For a while, it appeared that New Orleans might rob them of that opportunity, scoring the game's first seven points and twice going ahead by 10.
The Privateers couldn't miss from the outside, but they couldn't sustain the pace, either. North Carolina took its first lead, 21-20, on a basket by Serge Zwikker (13 points) with 7: 58 left in the half, and went up 25-23 on Ademola Okulaja's jumper from behind the arc.
That began a 16-2 run which ended with a three-pointer from Dante Calabria off a feed from McInnis, who finished with 11 assists.
Pub Date: 3/16/96