Archive for Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Jayhawks skin Mules, 97-70

December 4, 2002


Kansas did just fine without Kirk Hinrich. The four other regular starters each notched over 20 points - career nights for Wayne Simien and Aaron Miles - completely absorbing Hinrich's absence. On the down side, the Jayhawk bench did not step up, scoring just 10 points, including two from plug-in starter Bryant Nash on the only shot he put up. Combined, KU's bench went 2-for-13 from the floor, and 6-for-9 from the foul line.

Simien, however, had no trouble scoring. He only missed one of his 11 shots, totalling 22 points, and grabbed 10 rebounds on the night.

Where Kansas did struggle, if at all, was off the bench. It took until the 16:44 mark of the second half for KU's bench to score: Moulaye Niang hit one of two foul shots. Two minutes later, Michael Lee duplicated Niang's feat to notch the second KU point off the bench. At the 8:31 mark, Michael Lee became the first non-starter to score a basket.

In many games over the current and past seasons, KU's achilles' heel has been the tendency to give up the three-point shot. Many foes lived and/or died on their long-range accuracy. Tonight, the first 18 points CMSU scored came from beyond the arc - even their first trip to the foul line came while trying yet another bomb.

Kansas looked to rebound from back-to-back losses in New York City by taking it to the CMSU Mules - and that is exactly what happened. Wayne Simien and Aaron Miles each notched four early points as the Jayhawks streaked out to quick lead.

Four minutes into the game, Kansas already had a double-digit lead. CMSU was groping to find a way to stop KU's big men - Wayne Simien was responsible for eight of the Jayhawks' points, mostly from big jams. Four CMSU three-pointers account for the Mules' only points, keeping it close. In those first four minutes, KU went 8-for-9 from the floor, including six assists.

The Mules never found an answer for Wayne Simien, but did find success from beyond the arc. Effective three-point shooting from CMSU kept the Mules very much in the game. Several once-big Jayhawk leads dwindled down as CMSU refused to give up.

After a furious first ten minutes, the game's pace settled down somewhat. Where both teams were hitting nearly every shot they put up early, it looked like the refs replaced the game balls with bricks. Despite dominating much of the game, Kansas took just a 13-point lead into the lockers.

The Mules struck first in the second half, but could get no closer than nine points for the rest of the game. Slowly but surely, the Jayhawks pulled away.

Final numbers: Keith Langford led all scoring with 23 points, followed by Simien and Nick Collison, each with 22. Collison added eight rebounds and five blocks. Aaron Miles added 20 points and seven assists.

The rest of the Jayhawks: Lee and Niang each notched three points, while Nash and Jeff Graves each added two. As a team, Kansas shot 53.6 percent from the floor, and went 21-of-28 from the foul line. KU outrebounded CMSU by a whopping 52-31, and held the Mules to 36 percent shooting - though they hit 10 three-pointers over the course of the game.

Up next for Kansas is a trip to Oregon to face the Ducks. The last time these two teams faced off was in the NCAA Tournament last year - KU won to advance to the Final Four.

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