KU snares share of title – Kansas 65, Texas Tech 56

Langford keys win over Tech

? A jubilant Keith Langford held his right hand high and pointed it in the direction of a noisy Texas Tech student section as the horn sounded in Kansas University’s 65-56 victory Monday night at United Spirit Arena.

Langford’s ensuing gesture — he placed an imaginary gem on the finger next to his pinky — was easy to interpret.

“I’m greedy. I really want another ring. This means we’ve got another ring,” Langford said after the Jayhawks (23-6 overall, 13-2 in the Big 12 Conference) assured themselves at least a share of the regular-season conference title with one game to play.

Langford wanted the 12,821 fans — who taunted the 6-foot-4 Fort Worth, Texas, native hard during the game — to understand the Jayhawks had claimed a share of the crown.

The Jayhawks would win it outright if Oklahoma or Texas — those two teams play each other Saturday — lose one of their next two games or, better yet, if the Jayhawks win Sunday at Missouri.

“It means a lot,” Langford said after scoring 20 points — 14 the first half off 7-of-9 shooting in helping KU build a 39-28 halftime lead. “We handled so much adversity this year. We’ve won the Big 12 playing without one of the top five power forwards in the country.”

Indeed, the Jayhawks earned their second ring in two seasons with Wayne Simien playing just three league games and 40 seconds of a fourth because of a shoulder injury.

“The kids feel really good in the locker room right now,” KU coach Roy Williams said after the Jayhawks provided him his ninth league title in 15 seasons. “There’s some celebrating going on right now.”

KU’s coach was downright giddy after watching his team patiently dissect Texas Tech’s stingy defense.

Langford hit 10 of 13 shots overall, while Nick Collison scored 13 off 6-of-11 shooting. Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Miles contributed 10 points apiece off combined 9-of-19 marksmanship as the Jayhawks hit 55.8 percent of their shots to Tech’s 42.3 mark.

“Offensively, it’s as good as we’ve played since the second half of the Texas game,” Williams said of a 90-87 victory over the Longhorns Jan. 27. “We moved the ball. We shared the ball. We did not take bad shots.”

Kansas University's Keith Langford -- the Jayhawks' scoring leader with 20 points -- drives on Texas Tech's Kasib Powell, left. The Jayhawks claimed at least a share of the Big 12 Conference regular-season title with a 65-56 victory Monday over the Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas.

One of the Jayhawks’ worst shots was an airball by Miles with 5:25 left. At the time, KU was clinging to a 59-51 lead after leading by as many as 13 early in the second half.

After an Andre Emmett bucket cut the gap to 59-53, Miles came right back and stuck a corner shot at 4:56. Next, he plucked a steal from Robert Tomaszek and raced in for a layup, giving KU a 63-53 lead at 4:21.

The Red Raiders (16-10, 6-9) were finished after that.

“After he missed, I told him I was going to get the ball and come right back to him the next play,” Langford said. “Aaron can hit the outside shot and showed it there.”

Miles didn’t hesitate on his corner jumper.

“He showed toughness,” Williams said. “Some kids would have shied away after shooting an airball. Aaron didn’t, and then he came up with a big defensive play as well.”

Miles never hesitated.

“I was not worried about it. All it was was a missed shot,” Miles said. “It was just a shot. You take a lot of shots in a game. I knew I had to take some shots because Kirk and Nick were drawing two defenders all night.”

The 6-foot-9, 255-pound Collison did a nice job guarding A&M’s Andre Emmett, a 6-5 shooting guard and the Big 12’s leading scorer who missed 10 of 15 shots and scored 16 points.

“It’s a tough matchup,” Collison said. “He’s basically a two (shooting) guard, and I’m not used to playing a two guard. He played well.”

So did Langford, who scored eight points — Collison added six — as KU raced to an early 16-8 lead at 10:50. Langford also iced a 17-footer right before the halftime buzzer, giving KU a 39-28 lead at the break.

“I was just having fun,” Langford said. “It’s fun when the shot is going in and we’re playing well.”

It’ll be more fun if KU can stop Missouri at 1 p.m. Sunday in Columbia, Mo.

“We want the rings. We don’t want to share them with anybody,” Hinrich said.

When pressed, however, he admitted it was nice to be assured at least a share of the second league title of his career.

“It’s big, especially for Nick and myself, not winning it our first couple years,” Hinrich said. “We had some tough times early on.”