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Archive for Wednesday, January 17, 2001

KU-NEBRASKA PREVIEW

January 17, 2001

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"It's very easy to remember it," KU coach Roy Williams said of the building. "We've been practicing a lot in there."

The No. 5-ranked Jayhawks (13-1, 2-0), who held two-a-day practices in the fieldhouse the past two weeks, entertain Nebraska (8-7, 1-1) at 8:05 tonight.

It's KU's first home game since a Dec. 16 rout of Tulsa.

"We are looking forward to it," said Williams. "At the same time, we better not feel too comfortable. We better not feel that building is going to win the game. Just because somebody is coming to Allen Fieldhouse doesn't mean they will roll over and play dead for us."

The Cookie Belcher-led Cornhuskers beat Kansas twice during the 1998-99 season, including a 64-59 victory at Allen Fieldhouse.

"Yesterday coach had a quote: 'Allen Fieldhouse doesn't win us games. You just can't rely on being home to get a victory. You've still got to go and play,''' KU junior guard Jeff Boschee said.

"I think this team is old enough and mature enough to figure we do have to come and play. Nebraska came in here two years ago and beat us pretty handily. Iowa State beat us last year."

Despite its recent success outside of Allen Fieldhouse -- KU has won at Ohio State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma and beaten SW Missouri State at Kemper Arena the past month -- KU prefers home sweet home.

"You know you will have the crowd giving you that extra energy on the defensive end," Boschee said. "It makes everyone play harder and gets everyone on the team more enthused.

Tonight, Boschee and Kirk Hinrich must contend with NU senior point guard Belcher, who is averaging 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals a game.

"He anticipates where the ball will go," Boschee said of NU's all-time steals leader, who missed last season's two losses to KU because of a wrist injury. "Having long arms at 6-4 helps him playing on the perimeter against guys 6-foot like myself."

Junior three-point bomber Cary Cochran is averaging 10.4 points a game. He hit five of five threes in a 68-66 loss at Missouri 11 days ago.

Inside players Kimani Ffriend and Steffon Bradford combine for 27.4 points and 15.8 rebounds a game.

"Ask Drew Gooden right now who is the strongest player he played against last year and he'll tell you Bradford -- no question," Williams said of the 6-6, 240-pound senior. "Kimani (6-11, 229, Sr.) led the league in blocks last year. They have the size -- heightwise and bulk -- to make it hard to move them."

Just one game over .500, the Cornhuskers are somewhat of a puzzle, though they may now be jelling under first-year coach Barry Collier.

Nebraska thumped Texas, 80-67, last Saturday in Lincoln after a two-point loss to MU.

"Perhaps it took awhile for them to get used to Barry or Barry get used to them," Williams said. "Maybe that explains some problems. They have had some good wins (Miami of Florida, SMU, Texas with losses to Oral Roberts and UMKC). Beating Texas the way they did is impressive."

The Jayhawks will meet Texas A&M at 3:05 p.m. Saturday, also at Allen Fieldhouse. Then it's off to Colorado Monday for an 8:05 p.m. tip.

Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore can be reached at 832-7186.

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