Archive for Sunday, February 15, 2004

Langford hopes to shake dust against Huskers

February 15, 2004


— When he is old and gray, Keith Langford can sit in his rocking chair and tell his grandchildren about the game-winning three-pointer he buried Feb. 24, 2002, at the Devaney Center.

In the interim, however, Langford, Kansas University's junior guard from Fort Worth, Texas, will concentrate on making new memories.

"That's old news. It has nothing to do with this season, this team," Langford said. "It'll be good to watch a few years from now. I'm just saving (the tape)."

Langford's three-pointer with 33 seconds left lifted KU to an 88-87 win over the Huskers two seasons ago.

Last year, Langford scored a game-high 17 points in an 81-51 victory over NU at Devaney.

Today, Langford's Jayhawks will try to make it three victories in three tries in the Huskers' gym. Tipoff for the game between No. 12-ranked KU (15-5 overall, 7-2 Big 12 Conference) and unranked NU (13-7, 3-6) is 12:30 p.m., with a live telecast on ABC (channels 9, 49).

"If I get a three-pointer to fall now, I'll be happy," said Langford, who has scored just 16 points in KU's last two games after double-digit scoring in 32 consecutive contests.

Langford averages 15.9 points per game, but has hit just 10 of 29 shots for 26 points during his past three games.

"The ball just hasn't gone in," he said. "I haven't made any shots in the flow of the game. Against Texas Tech, the flow of the game was good. Other guys were into it making shots and it really wasn't a need there. The Oklahoma State game, I got up some shots and missed them.

"Hopefully it will change the next game, but I don't think individual stats. All that matters is we win the Big 12."

He shrugged off the notion his offense had fallen after guarding the best perimeter player on opposing teams -- guys like Andre Emmett of Texas Tech, Tony Allen of Oklahoma State and Rickey Paulding of Missouri.

"That's nothing new," Langford said. "I've been doing it since coming off the bench my freshman year. I did it last year. Sometimes I pick up an early foul. For the most part, I want to (guard the best)."

Today, the Jayhawks must stop NU's perimeter shooters to stave off a lethal three-point onslaught. The Cornhuskers, who hit 12 of 21 threes in a 78-62 victory Feb. 7 over Missouri, have made 140 of 349 threes for 40.1 percent and rank second in the Big 12 behind Texas in three-pointers made (140, or 7.0 per game).

Brian Conklin has cashed 38 of 68 for 55.9 percent. The 6-foot-11 senior from Hubbard, Ohio, has made 21 of 33 in Big 12 games for a league-leading 63.6 percent.

"Their three-point shooting is a huge concern," KU coach Bill Self said. "Look what they did to Missouri. They are tall and all of their tall guys can make threes."

Forward Andrew Drevo has made 26 of 74 (.351) treys, while guards Jake Muhleisen and Nate Johnson have converted 22 of 59 (373) and 21 of 45 (.467). Guard Marcus Neal, who was 4-for-4 versus Mizzou, has made 14 of 39 (.359).

Muhleisen has strongly rebounded from a season-ending injury he suffered in last year's game against KU in Lincoln. The 6-4 junior, who suffered a fracture in the hip-socket and pelvic area after landing flat on his back after he was fouled driving to the bucket, averages 8.3 points per game.

"They are quick," Self said. "They have a nice team and the teams that have traditionally been giving us problems have been teams that have perimeter 4-men, guys that can step away from the basket and make shots. They are a tough matchup for anybody.

"We just have to go guard them, and if we play with energy it will certainly help our chances."

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