Saturday, December 7, 2002

Jayhawks plucked by Ducks, 84-78


After not holding the lead since three minutes into the contest, Kansas battled back from down by as many as 14 points to forge a tie with 3:40 remaining in the game. Oregon scored the next basket to regain the lead, and held KU to just one free throw on the next Jayhawk possession. In fact, Kansas could only hit one field goal after that tie, getting outscored 10-4, and let the game slip away.

With both Wayne Simien and Nick Collison in foul trouble with four each, Kirk Hinrich and the Kansas bench stepped up and trying to stay in the game. Hinrich briefly left the game twice with a leg cramp, but otherwise was on the floor for nearly every moment.

Kansas' opponents often live and/or die by the three-point shot. In the first half, Oregon hit their first seven long distance attempts, and all but one of seven free throws. On the other side of the court, Nick Collison and Wayne Simien each had three fouls.

Wayne Simien and Kansas won the opening tip, but no one seemed to want to draw first blood. The teams traded a series of bricks and turnovers before Oregon picked up an early 5-2 lead. Two Duck turnovers gave the lead back to Kansas immediately after that, but Oregon went on a 7-0 run - helped by five Kansas fouls.

Kansas and Oregon played just like they did when they met last year - only they have switched roles. KU suffered through a five-minute field goal drought, as they only managed two free throws during that span. Nearly halfway through the first period, and Oregon maintained a strong lead.

After playing quiet games for the first ten minutes, Simien and Hinrich decided to start playing, and the Ducks' lead began to dwindle. Oregon responded with a flurry of their own scoring, enabling them to keep their double-digit lead with just over seven minutes left in the first half.

Starting the second half, Oregon stretched its lead out to nine points, as Kansas' shooting turned cold. A string of three straight Duck buckets was finally broken with a Keith Langford tip-in.

Oregon started the game hitting their first seven three-pointers. They then missed their next six, extending into the second half. This drought helped Kansas claw their way back into the game. With Wayne Simien and Nick Collison in foul trouble, KU's bench is playing well for the first time this year. Just about halfway through the second frame, and Oregon has

Just as Kansas looked to close in and take the lead, Oregon dashed out of range. Again. The Jayhawks closed to within three slim points, but Oregon responded with an 11-2 run to regain a double-digit lead with about ten minutes remaining.

Kansas never gave up, and fought until the last minute, but just could not overcome Oregon's late-game run.

Final numbers: Oregon's Luke Jackson led all scoring with 26 points, followed by Luke Ridnour's 25. As a team, the Ducks shot 44 percent from the floor, and hit 9 of 18 three-pointers. They went 11-for-16 from the free throw line.

Kirk Hinrich, back from his injury, paced Kansas with 24 points. Keith Langford added 21 points in a strong performance. After that Michael Lee added 11 points as he supplied much of the team energy. Wayne Simien scored 10 points before fouling out. Nick Collison scored seven points, Aaron Miles had four (on just 1-for-11 shooting) and Jeff Graves added one free throw.

As a team, Kansas shot just 39 percent from the floor, and converted only 19 of their 30 trips to the free throw line. However, Kansas did outrebound Oregon, 49-43. Collison and Lee each grabbed eight boards for KU.

Up next for Kansas is a trip to Tulsa to face the Golden Hurricane. Tip off will be 7 p.m., and the game will be carried on the Jayhawk Television Network.

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