7:30 PM ET, March 3, 2004
Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kansas
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas fans got great news on senior night -- Wayne Simien will be back for his next year.The 6-foot-9 Simien, the Big 12's No. 2 scorer and No. 3 rebounder, had 22 points in a 78-67 victory over Nebraska on Wednesday night and then disclosed he's decided not to enter the NBA draft. A powerful rebounder and consistent scorer, Simien had been the subject of speculation that he would forgo his senior season."Not a chance. I plan on having my (senior day) speech," he said."There's always a lot to think about," he added. "But for right now, Wayne Simien will be playing his senior year. There's still a lot to do."Simien and Aaron Miles fueled a 16-0 run that broke open a tight game and gave the Jayhawks (19-7, 11-4) revenge for an embarrassing 74-55 loss at Nebraska on Feb. 15. Kansas (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) led by as many as 22 points while winning on senior night for the 21st consecutive year."There was a possession where they had four offensive rebounds," Nebraska coach Barry Collier said. "You feel good about your defense until they don't block out."Senior center Jeff Graves, who was in coach Bill Self's doghouse and did not play at Nebraska, scored 10 points and said he was determined to "give everybody a show.""This was the last time we were going to be on the court, so we had to give it our all and give everybody a show," he said. "It was a nice revenge win."After ending the first half with a 16-4 run, Kansas got six points from J.R. Giddens in a 10-0 run to open the second half that made it 53-31.But Nebraska (16-10, 6-9) answered with a 10-0 run. Nate Johnson, the Huskers' leading scorer who had been held to just three points in the first half, had five in the spurt."Basketball is a game of spurts," Miles said. "You can never take anybody for granted. Like they say, `On any given Sunday."Simien got two of the Jayhawks' next four baskets and the lead quickly went to 59-42."We played pretty good at the end of the first half, but then Kansas put the points right back on us," Collier said.Giddens had 13 points for Kansas.Brian Conklin, who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range, had 14 points for Nebraska, while Jake Muhleisen added 13, Andrew Drevo 12, Johnson 11 and John Turek 10.With 12:38 left and the Jayhawks comfortably ahead, Kansas' Keith Langford went crashing into the table on press row and remained face down on the floor. As worried teammates hovered over him and the sellout crowd grew silent, Langford -- his face still to the floor -- suddenly began doing vigorous push-ups.The crowd roared, then got even louder when Giddens scored to make it 63-45."I just went off instinct," Langford said with a grin.Simien made it 74-55 with 6:12 left when he hit a backhanded hook shot in traffic beneath the basket and converted a foul shot for a hard-earned three-point play.The Cornhuskers, the Big 12's leading 3-point shooting team, canned seven of their first nine and trailed only 28-27 with 7:24 left in the first half when Conklin drilled his fourth in as many tries.But then little-used Christian Moody was assigned to guard Conklin and the 6-11 senior did not score again until 5:45 remained."They were just stepping out another step and getting in your face," Conklin said.Kansas ended its home season with a 13-1 record and 27 consecutive Big 12 wins.
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