Kentucky coach Rick Pitino said Wednesday that after much soul-searching, he decided not to let star guard Derek Anderson, recovering from knee surgery, play in the tournament.
"Derek has proven his point," Pitino said in San Jose, where the Wildcats play St. Joseph's in the West Regional semifinals tonight. "He's practiced three times with us, and it is obvious that he's ready to play. We'll continue to get him ready for the NBA camp in Phoenix on April 4, but we will not risk his pro career by playing him in the NCAA Tournament."
It was widely thought Anderson's season was over when the guard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in January. He had surgery and wasn't expected back at full strength until late spring.
Anderson practiced with the team this week, and doctors cleared him to play.
Though disappointed with Pitino's decision, Anderson was relieved a decision had been made and he could concentrate on getting ready for the pro scouts.
The Wildcats also announced that guard Allen Edwards will miss the rest of the tournament with a hairline fracture in his right foot. His absence left Kentucky with just eight scholarship players because of injuries and departures.
Maybe it was just trying to give UCLA some false confidence, but Iowa State sure seemed in awe of its opponent in tonight's semifinals at San Antonio.
"Their athletic ability is far beyond ours," senior center Kelvin Cato said. "We've got some guys who can jump, but all their guys can jump."
"UCLA is far more athletic than Kansas," senior guard Dedric Willoughby added. "You know what Kansas is going to do, but UCLA can do anything at any time."
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson, who won an NCAA title at Michigan State, visited the UCLA locker room Tuesday and offered some tournament advice.
"He said, "You obviously need to be focused, but don't forget to enjoy it. Take in the atmosphere smell the popcorn and listen to the shoes squeak,' " UCLA coach Steve Lavin said.
After limping to a 5-8 record to close the regular season, including a one-game exit from the ACC tournament, the Clemson players met to discuss their problems.
"The outcome was that we needed to start playing more as a unit and be more aggressive as a unit and not wait for the next player to make a move and have the other our guys standing around watching him," senior guard Merl Code said.
Jerod Haase's back hurts. Point guard Jacque Vaughn has bronchitis.
Not the best news for the Jayhawks heading into Friday night's semifinal against Arizona at Birmingham, Ala.
"There's no way I'm not going to play that game," Vaughn said.
"My back is tender, but it's getting better," said Haase, hurt in a fall in the second half against Purdue in the second round.
_ BRIAN LANDMAN, TIMES WIRES