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Archive for Sunday, December 20, 1998

33 PERCENTBUT THE JAYHAWKS DID GUT OUT A 65-55 VICTORY OVER THE ILLINI ON SATURDAY AT KEMPER ARENA.

December 20, 1998

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— If you like missed shots, you loved Kansas' methodical 65-55 men's basketball victory over Illinois on Saturday afternoon at Kemper Arena.

"My guess is the Basketball Hall of Fame will not ask for that tape. It was an ugly game," KU coach Roy Williams surmised.

His No. 13-ranked Jayhawks (8-2) hit 37 percent of their shots while holding Illinois (7-3) to frigid 33.3 percent marksmanship.

"It was the kind of game I expected," Williams said. "I told our kids before the game Illinois would fight and scrap and claw. Those are not negative comments. They will come out and guard you."

Still, KU's Ryan Robertson and Eric Chenowith were able to free themselves for 18 points apiece on combined 9-of-24 shooting.

Robertson hit 10 free throws without a miss -- the best effort by a KU player since Rex Walters' 11-of-11 effort against Oklahoma State in 1992 -- on a day the Jayhawks canned 20 of 32 charities to Illinois' seven of 13.

"Two crazy stats," Williams noted, "were how badly they outrebounded us (52-36) and how many more turnovers they had than we did (27-16)."

Illinois committed 17 turnovers the first half as the Jayhawks built a 29-21 halftime advantage.

It was a half that included a KU dry spell that lasted just under six minutes. That was an "ugly" stretch in which KU missed six straight shots and Illinois 10 of 11.

KU's uninspired play claimed two victims.

Williams sat both sophomore Kenny Gregory and freshman Jeff Boschee for long stretches. Neither player scored the first half as Boschee played 10 minutes; Gregory nine.

"We didn't get much out of Kenny and Jeff the first half. I was disappointed in Kenny defensively early and Jeff's ballhandling," Williams said.

"At some point you've got to be responsible for how you are playing. I took them out and let them sit a little while, probably a long while for them. I was pleased with how competitive they were in the second half."

Gregory finished with three points and no boards. Boschee missed eight of nine shots and had four points and four turnovers against one assist.

"It kind of made me mad at first," Boschee said of the demotion. "It hits you and it kind of hurts a little bit when coach says you are not competing. It's something you've got to take to heart. If he says you are not doing it, you are not doing it.

"Defensively, I think I played better the second half. Offensively, I couldn't get any shots to go down. My shot was a little flat."

The Jayhawks did go on a 9-0 spurt to up a 39-33 lead to 48-33 with 12:13 left. Chenowith had four points and Nick Bradford (13 points, 10 boards, four assists) hit one of his two three-pointers in the burst.

Thanks in large part to freshman Cory Bradford (26 points), Illinois went on a 19-10 run and cut the deficit to 58-52 at 2:01.

After a Chenowith free throw at 1:08, KU's Marlon London solidly blocked a Braford shot. After that, Robertson stole an inbounds pass that was first tipped by Chenowith. Robertson iced two free throws on the other end, icing the victory, 61-52 at :42.9.

"Ryno (Robertson) had four fouls, so coach put me on Bradford," London said. "He (Bradford) actually put it up in my face. I had no choice but to block it. The other ones he hit were coming off a screen and nobody could catch up with him."

"That was a big-time play," Williams said. "And Eric's interior defense and his blocks were important, too."

Chenowith had seven blocks for the second straight game.

"Coach called it an ugly game and I think he's right," Robertson noted. "But the important thing is we got a win. Sometimes if it's a defensive struggle, that's what it has to be."

Williams agreed.

"I like teams being tough enough to win games like this," he said. "A lot of guys would fold up their tents and start looking for momma. You don't see any of our guys doing that out there."

-- Gary Bedore's phone number is 832-7186. His e-mail address is gbedore@ljworld.com

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