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Archive for Monday, February 10, 1997

WHAT SKID? JAYHAWKS REBOUND

February 10, 1997

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— Dedric Willoughby's 36 points were the most any player has scored against Kansas since Oklahoma State's Randy Rutherford scored 45 in a 1995 game.

Losing streaks are for other basketball programs, not for Kansas.

"I've never lost two in a row at the University of Kansas. I thought that was in jeopardy today," KU junior forward and native Iowan Raef LaFrentz said after scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Jayhawks' 69-62 victory over Iowa State on Sunday at Hilton Coliseum.

"We did not want to lose again. The only thing worse than losing is losing two in a row," he added, emphatically.

The No-1 ranked Jayhawks (23-1, 9-1) bounced back in a resounding way after suffering their first loss on Tuesday at Missouri.

KU avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time since 1993-94 by overcoming a 36-point effort from Dedric Willoughby, who thrilled a wild, sellout crowd of 14,325 fans who packed the place to cheer the No. 6 Cyclones on Fred Hoiberg Day.

Willoughby brought back memories of Hoiberg, now with the Indiana Pacers, drilling nine three-pointers, the most by a KU opponent since Keith Carmichael of East Tennessee State drilled 10 in 1995. His 36 points were the most against KU since Oklahoma State's Randy Rutherford scored 45, also in 1995.

"You've got to talk about Dedric Willoughby," KU coach Roy Williams said. "On his last two threes, no man alive, including Michael Jordan, could have guarded him better than Jerod Haase."

Haase, who scored seven points and Jacque Vaughn, who scored 18 points and added three assists with five steals, split time on Willoughby.

"I thought about going for his legs," Haase said, asked about trying to stop the senior guard.

"He made some tough shots, some closely-guarded shots," Vaughn noted. "Before the half, I couldn't have been any closer."

Willoughby tossed in an NBA three with :04 left before the break. He continued to sizzle, canning a three and a free throw after getting hacked by LaFrentz who came way out to try to stop the bomber with 9:46 left and KU ahead, 51-43.

Willoughby scored his 30th point on two free throws at 9:29 with KU on top, 52-47. He was silenced during the next 8:28, then drained a pair of threes in the last minute after KU opened a 63-54 lead following four straight LaFrentz charities at 1:11.

"Dedric went cold a bit and we played well down the stretch," LaFrentz said.

Willoughby missed three of his last four three-point attempts in the final three minutes and went four of 10 from bonus land in the second half after five-of-six trey shooting in the first half.

KU converted just one field goal the last 8:10, but the Jayhawks hit 13 of 20 free throws in that span.

The Jayhawks, who shot 40 percent to ISU's 38.5, also played some mean defense, holding the Cyclones (16-4, 7-3) to no points during a 4 1/2-minute stretch in which KU boosted a 54-53 lead to five points. In the second half, ISU hit seven of 24 shots for 29.2 percent.

"Both teams are good defensive clubs and showed it," Williams said, adding: "one thing I've admired all year is our toughness."

Team leader LaFrentz picked up his fourth foul with 7:32 left and KU ahead by four. He returned at 3:47 KU up by two, 55-53.

"There was not much going on in terms of scoring when Raef went out so we definitely had to concentrate on stopping them," forward T.J. Pugh said.

KU led, 58-54, at 1:55. Pugh then hit a free throw and LaFrentz four to open a nine-point cushion. Willoughby iced a long three to cut it to 63-57 at 1:01, but missed a long one at :37. LaFrentz's two free throws at :26.2 and Vaughn's pair at :17.7 opened a 67-57 lead.

It was KU's second consecutive win in Ames.

And avoided the dreaded two-game losing streak.

"One thing I said to the team is everybody will wonder how we'll react, if we'll say, 'Woe is me,''' Williams said of losing to Mizzou. "I said, 'We can control our own emotions. Let's be ready to play.'''

KU will meet Oklahoma State at 8:05 p.m. Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse to start a four-game homestand.

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