NEW ORLEANS -- Alex Jensen, Jeremy Killion, Tony Harvey, Hanno Mottola and every other Utah player that had the task of staring Miami of Ohio's Wally Szczerbiak in the eyes learned a tough lesson on Sunday.

It's one they all would like to forget but won't anytime soon. At least not until late next November.Guarding Szczerbiak is like grabbing three hand grenades, pulling the pins with your teeth and juggling. Meanwhile, an armed guard stands near and tells you that if any of them hit the ground, you will be shot immediately.

You have to concentrate just to keep any of the explosives from missing your fingers and falling to the dirt, but even then it's not enough to save your life. In time, the ammunition will explode and take your arms, legs and all the rest of your flesh and bone on a ride around the world in separate directions.

Some players just refuse to be beat and will exploit you anyway possible.

It's the Michael Jordan phenomenon: Anyway you look at it, you're going to lose. Even when you're holding on, he's getting away.

"He's tough to guard. He comes off two or three picks every time down the floor," said Jensen, who found himself in foul trouble most of the game because of Szczerbiak. "He is one of the toughest players I've had to defend, if not the toughest."

Washington learned of this danger when it watched Szczerbiak tee off for 43 points in the Red Hawks' 59-58 victory in round one. And Utah learned that lesson when Szczerbiak led his Miami team to the Sweet 16 by scoring 24 points and handing out five assists despite shooting only 11 times.

"You win anyway you can," said Szczerbiak, son of European hoop legend Walt Szczerbiak. "If I only shoot 11 times and we win, that's just fine. If I shoot 33 times and we win, that's great. It doesn't matter how we win, or who scores. It's about Miami winning."

Guarding this man is a no-win situation. Even when he doesn't shoot. This was demonstrated in the first half.

The Utes limited Szczerbiak, who took 33 shots against the Huskies, to only eight shots and eight points in the first 20 minutes. You'd think the Utes would have held a dominating lead, considering these facts.

But the advantage was only three.

If stopping Szczerbiak from busting loose was the Utes' main goal, they accomplished it. If stopping Szczerbiak from being a huge factor was the Utes' main goal, they failed.

"We felt we had to give help to Szczerbiak," said Utah coach Rick Majerus. "They just found the open areas."

With all the attention fixed on Szczerbiak -- Utah ran as many as three guys at Miami's star at a time --guys like John Estick, who had 18, and Jason Stewart, who scored 12, found holes. Szczerbiak simply let his teammates do their thing.

"We knew they were going to defend Wally hard, and we knew somebody would be open," Estick. "I tried to find the open spot and I hit my shots."

Near the end, though, with his teammates feeling the weight, Szczerbiak showed why many feel he should be a Player of the Year candidate. Up only three with 1:29 left, Szczerbiak hit six free throws to prevent a Ute comeback.

"Wally knows when and where to strike," said Miami coach Charlie Coles. "He's a tremendous player, a great leader for this team."

This just isn't coachspeak. Szczerbiak has led the RedHawks to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history, which came because he led his team over two higher seeded teams.

He also led a Utah team to its worst nightmare of the year.

Next up for Szczerbiak is Kentucky, a team with a talent pool so deep you need a life preserver just to read the depth chart. But, as Szczerbiak has proved more than once this season, one man -- if they are as talented as he is -- can sink even the sturdiest of ships.