8:00 PM ET, January 2, 2004
Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas
Wayne Simien, who had 23 points for Kansas. "They hit some big shots. They were a scrappy bunch, very athletic. We're fortunate to come out with a win."Villanova (8-3) kept fouling the Jayhawks (8-2) as they drove to the basket, and Kansas wound up hitting 35 of 41 free throws -- just three off the school record."They had only five 3-pointers, but probably 10 conventional three-pointers," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "When you get beat (to the basket) sometimes you just have to let them go."Keith Langford scored seven points in the tiebreaking run and finished with 24 as Kansas beat an unranked opponent at home for the 51st straight time.Villanova rallied three times as the Jayhawks attempted to pull away in the first half, and then tied it 43-all on Mike Nardi's contested 3-pointer early in the second half.J.R. Giddens then hit a 3-pointer for Kansas and the Jayhawks quickly mounted a 7-point lead on foul shots by Langford and Simien.Jeff Hawkins hit a 3-pointer and Langford canned two free throws to cap the big run that appeared momentarily to have put the game entirely out of reach.David Padgett, the Jayhawks' 6-foot-11 freshman, had 15 points and nine rebounds."We had to overcompensate down low, then we relaxed on the perimeter," Wright said. "That was the key tonight."Villanova closed to 80-75 with 55 seconds left on two free throws by Allan Ray, who had 22 points.Aaron Miles answered with two free throws for the Jayhawks a few seconds later, then Ray glided under the basket for a bucket that made it 82-77 with 38 seconds to go. Miles went back to the foul with 34 seconds remaining and made both, putting Kansas ahead 84-77."I thought offensively we did some really good things," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "When they started their comeback, we didn't play very good defense."Curtis Sumpter had 18 points for Villanova, while Nardi had 16 and Randy Foye 11.Raye drilled a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to pull the Wildcats even at 38. Every time the Jayhawks appeared to be pulling away in the first 30 minutes, either Sumpter or Allan wound respond.Simien, early in the half, personally outscored the Wildcats 9-0 to give the Jayhawks a 22-12 lead. But Foye hit a free throw and then canned a 3-pointer a few minutes later to get the lead down to 22-18.Simien's basket capped a 6-0 run and gave the Jayhawks another 10-point lead with 3:47 to go. But two 3-pointers by Sumpter helped whittle the lead down to three, and then Ray tied it.
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