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Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

Jayhawks Collison, Hinrich reverse roles again

March 30, 2003

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— The roles were reversed. The results were the same.

In Kansas University's NCAA Tournament first- and third-round games, senior forward Nick Collison carried the offensive load for the Jayhawks when senior guard Kirk Hinrich struggled. Collison scored 18 points March 20 in a 64-61 victory against Utah State at Oklahoma City, while Hinrich was limited to eight points.

In Thursday's West Regional semifinal at Arrowhead Pond, Collison had a career-high 33 points in a 69-65 victory against Duke. Hinrich was held to two points, his lowest output since their freshman year.

In Saturday's 78-75 victory against Arizona in the regional final, it was Hinrich who delivered a 28-point performance; Collison scored eight points.

"It was just frustrating," said Collison, who had scored in double figures in 29 straight games. "The whole game was frustrating for me because I couldn't get myself going. It was hard to maneuver with so many guys in the lane."

Top-seeded Arizona (28-4) focused its defense on the 6-foot-9 Collison and clogged the lane with its zone defense.

Collison's seven field-goal attempts marked his lowest total of the season and fewest since he took six shots in last year's NCAA first-round victory against Holy Cross, but he found other ways to help second-seeded Kansas (29-7) advance to Saturday's national semifinal against Marquette at New Orleans. Collison, who averages 18.5 points per game, finished with nine of KU's 37 rebounds and also had two assists, three blocks and a steal in 34 minutes.

Collison went to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 8:19 remaining and Arizona leading 64-63. On the bench, assistant coach Ben Miller told him to find holes in the Wildcat zone.

"I got back in the game and really didn't find any openings, but we got the win," said Collison, who scored two points after returning to the court with 3:45 to play.

Collison lauded junior forward Jeff Graves, who filled the void inside with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

"He was huge," Collison said of the oft-criticized junior-college transfer.

"That's about as well as he's played. For him to produce like that when we really needed it was big for him. He's come so far since he first got here," Collison said.

Coach Roy Williams praised Collison for his unselfish attitude.

"There is nobody on this team happier right now than Nick Collison, and he scored eight points, nine rebounds and had seven shots," Williams said.

"I think that's the epitome of what I want a Kansas basketball player to be."

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