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Archive for Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Woodling: Kansas mystical this time

January 7, 2003

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— All I can figure is the moon was in the seventh house. Perhaps, too, Jupiter was aligned with Mars.

Naw, this wasn't the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. This was a good, old-fashioned butt kicking -- the kind that no one, absolutely no one -- expected.

Kansas 83, Iowa State 54.

Yes, the Kansas University team that was supposed to be reeling after the loss of Wayne Simien to that dislocated shoulder, the Kansas team that was forced to play its Big 12 Conference opener in Hilton Coliseum where they talk about "Hilton Magic" -- a mystical shroud that often envelops visitors -- took no prisoners.

Some magic. It was KU that pulled the rabbit out of the hat on Monday night.

How difficult is it for Kansas to win in Hilton Coliseum?

Here's an example: The Cyclones recognized Danny Manning just after the first half ended. Manning, the former Kansas All-American who carried the Jayhawks to the 1988 NCAA championship, was sitting behind the KU bench.

Why would Iowa State's public address announcer mention the presence of a former player from the visiting team? I mean, how often does that happen? Has it ever? And then I remembered that Manning made four visits to Hilton Coliseum and never won once, and I'm sure someone at ISU remembered.

That's how hard it is to come into Hilton Coliseum and leave with a victory.

And yet this Kansas team, playing its third game in five days and without Simien, posted the largest winning margin of any visiting team in Hilton, a raucous all-chairback seat arena that opened way back in 1971.

To tell the truth, without Simien, most people suspected the only chance the Jayhawks would have against the once-beaten Cyclones would be for native Iowans Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich to take charge in probably their last basketball games ever in their native state.

Collison did, scoring a career-high 31 points, but Hinrich, who had counted a career-high 29 points two days earlier against UMKC, struggled on offense. Hinrich, who made 10 of 12 shots against the Kangaroos, canned only two of 11 on Monday night and finished with just five points.

Yet nobody said Hinrich had a bad game. Several ISU players and coach Larry Eustachy mentioned how the senior from Sioux City was clearly in control all 32 minutes he was on the floor.

In fact, Hinrich may have played the largest role in that early 22-2 KU blitz by dogging Jake Sullivan, the Cyclones' No. 1 offensive weapon, unmercifully. The 6-foot-1 Sullivan took nine shots in the decisive first half and made only one.

"I said to Jake," ISU coach Eustachy said, "'You're not Hinrich, but that's where we want to get you to.'"

Sometimes statistics don't tell the whole story and Hinrich was a case in point.

Collison's stats did tell a story, however.

"He was a man out there," ISU freshman Adam Haluska said.

Added Sullivan: "Collison went to school on us. I just shook my head after he hit that trailing three-pointer."

A whole lot of head-shaking was going on Monday night because, regardless of how good Kansas is or how bad Iowa State is, very few college basketball teams win by 29 points on the road.

In fact, it might be a safe bet that Kansas won't whip the Cyclones by 29 when they visit Lawrence on Feb. 16.

"It was just our night," KU coach Roy Williams said.

Oversimplification? Maybe, but how else can you explain it?

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