By staff and wire reports
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 28, 1997

Just two fans show up to see Wildcats off to Final 4

The Arizona men's basketball team got an early start on the final leg of the road to the Final Four.

The Wildcats left for Indianapolis yesterday one hour before their scheduled departure time so only two fans were there as the team's charter 727 rolled down the runway at Tucson International Airport. Arizona plays North Carolina in a semifinal game on Saturday. Kentucky and Minnesota meet in the other semifinal.

The team and coaches were dressed in their warmup suits. Coach Lute Olson and his wife, Bobbi, were the first to board. The smiling coach held a grandson.

Phil and Jan Bentley, longtime Wildcat supporters, were the sole fans to see the team off.

''Like everybody else, we've been pleasantly surprised. Everything is gravy. Nobody had expectations of their going this far,'' said Phil Bentley.

When Arizona meets North Carolina, Bennett Davison's assignment will be the Tar Heels' Antawn Jamison, who leads North Carolina with a 19.1 scoring average and has averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in tournament play.

''Of all the individual matchups, that certainly is one of the real key ones,'' Olson said.

''Bennett has struggled off and on offensively for us, but one constant has been his ability to defend.''

Davison is aware of all this.

''It seems the defensive assignments come easily for me,'' he said.

''My offense is usually where I struggle, so that's where I'm really concentrating.''

Jamison is aware of it, too. In the six Tar Heels losses this season, he averaged only 14.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. In rescuing the Tar Heels against California, however, he scored 12 straight second-half points to overcome a seven-point deficit with 9:40 remaining.

''I understand what my teammates expect of me,'' Jamison said.

''I don't want to end this season thinking I could have done this or that. I want to get it done, starting Saturday.''

Davison, 6-foot-8 and 208, and Jamison, 6-9 and 222, are equally fast, Olson said, but Jamison's teammates ''do a fabulous job of getting the ball to him. This is the biggest challenge Bennett will face all year long.''

Davison has fouled out only three times this year, but had nine games in which he was whistled for four.

''I know that Jamison is an aggressive rebounder, and he's a lot better than the first time we played them,'' said Davison, who's averaging eight rebounds in the tournament.

''He's quicker and more aggressive than any guy I've faced this year.

''That's going to make me work even harder,'' he added. ''I won't have any problems getting prepared for this game.''

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