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Simien scores 18 points for Jayhawks

2/3/2004

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas' upperclassmen tried to explain to
the freshmen how this rivalry with Missouri was unlike anything
they had ever known.

But the youngsters had to see for themselves.

After the No. 20 Jayhawks held on Monday night for a 65-56
victory over the Tigers, J.R. Giddens, for one, was a believer.

"I never knew it until before the game," said Giddens, who had
11 points and seven rebounds. "I was watching the student section
during warmups, hearing what the crowd was saying. I'm over there
missing shots because I was thinking, 'Oh, my gosh.' "

The capacity crowd of 16,300 crammed into Allen Fieldhouse let
out a thunderous roar when Wayne Simien canned two free throws with
42 seconds to go, sealing the victory for the Jayhawks (14-4, 6-1
Big 12) in a typically hard-fought showdown in the 97-year-old
series.

"We kept telling them about it," said Simien, who led the
Jayhawks with 18 points. "They said, 'Oh, yeah, it's just another
big game.' But they got a chance to experience it for themselves."

Kansas led by only two points at halftime and was unable to
pull away from the Tigers (9-9, 4-4) until the final minutes.

"I thought we were in a good position in the second half,"
Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "We had a few mental breakdowns
and they ended up with some emotional dunks."

Arthur Johnson, who led Missouri with 15 points, hit a hook shot
in the lane to make it 61-56 with 2:46 to go as Missouri sought to
post back-to-back wins for the first time since the second and
third games of the season.

But then Aaron Miles made two free throws after Travon Bryant
missed a 3-pointer for the Tigers, who were just 3-for-18 from
beyond the arc.

After being tabbed in the coaches' poll as the Big 12 favorites,
the Tigers could be on the verge of letting the season get away
from them.

"We know what we are facing," Snyder said. "there is not an
ounce of feeling sorry for themselves."

Miles, who left the game momentarily in the second half with
pain in his right ankle, had 11 points and eight assists as the
Jayhawks took a half-game lead over idle No. 11 Texas and No. 13
Oklahoma State in the Big 12 race.

Rickey Paulding had 14 points for Missouri and Bryant and Jimmy
McKinney had 10 apiece.

"I would change our record if I could," Snyder said. "We have
to keep lacing them up."

Keith Langford took a pass from Miles, the Big 12 assists
leader, and stuffed it through for a 51-45 lead as the Jayhawks
fought to take control. Then Bryant made a 3-pointer and a moment
later McKinney's twisting jumper in the lane made it 53-52.

A few minutes later, after a couple of furiously contested
rebounds went the Jayhawks' way, Simien put in a short jumper in
traffic for a 59-54 lead.

After Kansas' Jeff Graves fouled out and Johnson missed the
front end of a one-and-one, Langford pulled down the rebound and
Miles fed Simien for a thunderous dunk and a 61-54 lead.

"We wanted to come back with a big-time game like this,"
Simien said. "The fans were really into it. They got us pumped up
and we went from there."