Kansas Too Much For Arizona State
March 22, 2003
By JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Kansas Jayhawks are off and running again, all the way West and into the round of 16 for the third straight year.
Seniors Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich sparked the Jayhawks right from the opening tipoff Saturday night in a 108-76 win over Arizona State, an offensive showcase light years removed from their first-round struggles against Utah State.
'I just thought we were sensational,' said coach Roy Williams, who will take the Jayhawks to the regional semifinals for the ninth time in his 15 seasons.
Second-seeded Kansas (27-7), a Final Four team a year ago, heads to the West Regional semifinals in Anaheim, Calif., against Duke.
'Against Memphis, we were the aggressor and we took the fight to them. Against Kansas tonight, they came at us and they were more the aggressor.'
-- Tommy Smith
Collison scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds, and Hinrich scored 24 as the Jayhawks topped 100 points for just the fifth time in the school's 98 NCAA tournament games.
The Jayhawks shot 68 percent from the floor, outrebounded Arizona State 41-31 and constantly kept up the offensive pressure against the overwhelmed Sun Devils.
'Not only did we make shots, I really loved the way we attacked,' Williams said.
'I don't know that we were looser. I think we were more intense, more focused,' he said.
Jason Braxton scored 17 for the 10th-seeded Sun Devils, who were in their first NCAA tournament since 1995.
The Big 12 regular-season champions wasted no time returning to form as one of the nation's highest-scoring offenses after their tough 64-61 win over Utah State in the opening round.
Kansas did just about anything and everything it wanted, running and gunning throughout. They hit 14 consecutive shots during a second-half run that made what was already a rout look even worse.
Guard Aaron Miles said the Jayhawks came out ready to pour it on with a lighting-quick transition game.
'Arizona State, they might have prepared for it, but we executed well,' said Miles, who had 18 points.
Arizona State was stunned by the Jayhawks' quickness.
'They would catch the ball and they would be gone,' center Tommy Smith said. 'It seemed like we'd be a step behind. We'd be taking off and they were already at halfcourt.'
It was easy pickings from the start.
Collison scored on a layup for the game's first points, Hinrich swished a 3-pointer from the right corner for a 5-0 lead and the Jayhawks never looked back.
The Sun Devils tried to contain Collison by playing man-to-man but it was futile.
'We've been seeing a lot of zones,' Collison said. 'What a team feels like is their best chance to win is to play what they're used to. I think that's what they had in mind, but we played well against it.'
Collison dunked, converted a three-point play and started a three-way give-and-go with Miles and Keith Langford that Langford finished with a tomahawk dunk for a 16-4 lead.
Hinrich swished another 3-pointer from the corner and a jumper by Miles made it 34-12 with 6:37 left in the half.
The Sun Devils, meanwhile, didn't show any of the offensive form they had in a 84-71 first-round win over Memphis.
Arizona State started four seniors but the experienced lineup looked shaky. The Sun Devils fired up several airballs and had nearly as many turnovers (eight) as field goals (11) in the first half.
'Against Memphis, we were the aggressor and we took the fight to them,' Smith said. 'Against Kansas tonight, they came at us and they were more the aggressor.'
Ike Diogu, the Pac-10 freshman of the year, held his own on the offensive end against Collison with 10 points in the first half. But he was no match defensively for Kansas' savvy senior, the Big 12's career scoring and rebounds leader.
In the second half, Arizona State missed four of its first five shots, before cutting it to 49-37 on Smith's dunk. But Collison dunked on the other end, hit a fallaway jumper and the Jayhawks had the lead back up to 60-41 with 15 minutes to play.
That's when frustration finally set in for Arizona State. Coach Rob Evans was hit with a technical for complaining about the officiating. Miles made both free throws for a 70-45 lead and it was cruise control the rest of the way.
'I'm ready to go,' Collison said. 'I'm ready to get to the Final Four.'