Foul trouble--Kansas foul trouble. That's what kept Arizona in the game, and let them come back from as many as 16 points in the second half to pull within four points with 3:43 remaining. However, that was when coach Roy Williams put all five starters back in. Nick Collison and Aaron Miles eventually fouled out, but Kansas held off the Wildcats down the stretch to seal the victory.
Like other Jayhawk opponents this season, the Arizona Wildcats bet their strategy on three-point shooting. After some initial success, their hot hands cooled off. Kansas shot over 50%, while holding Arizona to below 40% for the entire game.
Nick Collison grabbed the opening tip-off and dashed down the court, putting it in for a very quick two-point lead. After a fast opening series that saw four lead changes in the first three minutes, the Jayhawks slowly but surely built up a first-half lead as large as 17 points.
Arizona exploded out of the lockers in the second half to try and climb back in it, but five minutes later the lead was back to 15 points.
Just when KU started to look comfortable, the fouls began piling up. Kirk Hinrich, Jeff Boschee, Nick Collison and Aaron Miles all found themselves in trouble, and the Jayhawk bench filled in to soak up extra minutes.
The final 90 seconds saw Arizona trading desperation bombs for Kansas free throws. What hurt Arizona the most was losing their leading scorers and hottest hands Jason Gardner and Rick Anderson to the same foul trouble plaguing Kansas.
Kansas made 13 of 14 free throws in those final minutes, finding the clutch accuracy that eluded them in the past.
Arizona's Jason Gardner led all scoring with 34 points. Drew Gooden paced Kansas with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Jeff Boschee and Keith Langford each had 19 points, Kirk Hinrich scored 16--to go with his nine assists--and Nick Colllison added 12 to cap five Jayahawks in double-digits.
KUSports.com, for full coverage of today's game.