No. 8 Kansas Defeats No. 4 Arizona, 105-97

Dec 1, 2001

By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. - Kansas had too much muscle, shooting skill andexperience for youthful Arizona.

Drew Gooden had 23 points and tied his career high with 15 rebounds, andJeff Boschee scored 19 as the eighth-ranked Jayhawks defeated No. 4 Arizona105-97 Saturday.

The Wildcats cut a 16-point deficit with 11 minutes left to four on twooccasions, but each time the cool Jayhawks pulled away.

'In the first half we couldn't keep up with our transition game,' Goodensaid. 'In the second half we had some letdowns on defense but were able to hitthe buckets to stop their runs.'

Keith Langford, a freshman, had a season-high 19 points, Kirk Hinrich had 16points and nine assists and Nick Collison had 14 and nine rebounds for theJayhawks (4-1), who beat the Wildcats for the fifth time in six meetings.

'I'm just ecstatic,' coach Roy Williams said. 'You have to feel bad forArizona, because they played well. We had to continue to tell our guys to playhard, and we made clutch shots at the end.'

Jason Gardner scored a career-high 34 points for the Wildcats (3-1).

Luke Walton had 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, and Rick Andersonscored 15 of his 17 points during Arizona's desperate rally. He also had 10rebounds.

Arizona got within 87-83 when Walton made two free throws with 3:43 to go,and were close again at 99-95 on a 3-pointer by Anderson with 28 secondsremaining.

But Jeff Carey made two free throws and Hinrich four in the remaining time.

'You could see the experience,' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. 'Theyplayed a whole lot smarter than we did. The key is that Kansas played withgreat emotion and poise for 40 minutes.'

Kansas won the last previous meeting Dec. 2, 1997, in the Great Eight inChicago, only months after Arizona knocked the Jayhawks out of the 1997 NCAASoutheast Regional.

Arizona was playing its eighth ranked team in a row. But the Wildcats lookedlike a team inexperienced in tight games, shooting just 35.3 percent andhandling the ball like a squad with six freshmen among its nine scholarshipplayers - which it is.

'Getting down by 15 points in the first half against a team like Kansas istough to come back against,' said Gardner, who was 11-of-22, including 8-of-16on 3-pointers. 'Our first four games were against the top teams in thecountry, but losing this game puts our heads back in the right place.'

The Wildcats trailed 75-59 when Langford made a short jumper with 10:59remaining.

After Arizona got within 87-83, the Jayhawks called timeout, and Hinrichmade a layup. Then Boschee hit a 3-pointer with 2:45 left and two free throws31 seconds later, opening a 94-84 lead.

No more than two points separated the teams until Boschee started a 9-2surge with a 3-pointer 5:05 into the game.

Gooden completed it with a tip-in 6:59 in, sending the Jayhawks to a 21-15lead.

Gardner interrupted a spate of blown layups and missed perimeter shots byArizona with a pair of 3-pointers midway through the first half, but Boscheeanswered the second with a 3-pointer and a sparkling reverse layup on a followshot.

That got a 15-6 run going, and after Gooden's second straight layup Kansasled 38-27 with 6:20 to go.

The defeat was the first in a home opener since Arkansas won in Tucson nineyears ago, and the third for Olson in 19 home openers.

'This was a big win,' Collison said. 'Not very many teams can win here.It was just really big.'

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