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Arizona knows Vikings no pushover

Citizen Staff Writer



MIAMI – Cleveland State coach Gary Waters didn’t want to think about facing Arizona on Sunday for the right to get to the Sweet 16.

He wanted to savor his moment, an 84-69 Vikings victory over No. 3 seed Wake Forest.

But deep down, he knew his concentration would have to be about the Wildcats (20-13), once the story of this Midwest Regional until his Vikings took over with their upset win.

“They are very good,” Waters said about the Cats. “It’s another talent we have to deal with.”

Arizona thinks the same way. UA is in this situation because perhaps Wake Forest didn’t take CSU seriously. The Vikings (26-10) won at Syracuse in December on a Hail-Mary shot and beat Butler for the Horizon League Tournament title.

“The guys realize they must respect these guys,” Arizona assistant coach Reggie Geary said after watching the Vikings’ victory on Friday. “I don’t know if this is true or not, but it seemed like Wake Forest didn’t fully grasp how good Cleveland State really was. We’ll make our players aware of it.”

Walters said his initial impressions are UA plays well in its zone led by guard Nic Wise.

“(Wise) runs their show and they do a very good job in what they do,” Walters said. “When I looked out there he looked like a pro. We have to deal with that.”

Arizona will have to deal with Vikings guards Norris Cole and Cedric Jackson. The two combined for 41 points.

“You can see why they (are in the) tournament,” Geary said. “They have very good guard play and a multitude of guys who can create their own shots. They play extremely hard.

“They pestered Wake Forest’s guards and created problems.”

The win was reminiscent of Cleveland State’s only other NCAA appearance in 1986, when it upset Indiana and Bob Knight in the opening round. The Vikings went on to the regional final before losing in the final seconds to Navy and David Robinson.

“We understand what the ’86 team did was important for our school,” said Cole, who had 22 points against Wake Forest. “But now it’s time for a new chapter.”

The Vikings went 10-21 two seasons ago, in Waters’ first year.

“I’m sorry to a lot of people that we broke their brackets,” forward George Tandy said. “But we had a lot of confidence.”


Arizona Cleve. St.

20-13 Record 26-10

62 RPI ranking 52

72.2 Points per game 66.1

47.5 Field goal % 43.2

68.4 Points allowed 58.9

43.6 Foes’ field goal % 40.6

33.9 Rebounds a game 34.4

12.6 Turnovers a game 12.5

• Game lineups and matchup, 5C

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