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Monday, March 10, 2003

Jayhawks return Antlers’ taunts

Kansas players whoop it up after claiming second straight Big 12 crown

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— Nick Collison stood at halfcourt and placed an imaginary phone to his ear, mocking Missouri's Antlers who made crank calls to members of Kansas University's basketball team all last week.

Kirk Hinrich, meanwhile, pulled at his jersey, pointing the word 'Kansas' in the faces of students in the Tigers' raucous cheering section.

Aaron Miles and Keith Langford grinned and waved their hands, imploring the Antlers to make some noise as the Jayhawks exited the court after a rousing 79-74 victory over Mizzou Sunday at Hearnes Center.

Yes, the Jayhawks were a happy bunch after winning an undisputed Big 12 Conference championship for the second straight year.

"In the words of Jesse Jackson ... 'Jubilation,''' Langford said after collecting 12 points and six rebounds in 35 minutes. "It's great to have the title outright. We did not want to share it with anybody. People who wanted us to lose are disappointed."

People like the Antlers.

"They can take their Antlers and put 'em ... " Langford said, not completing the thought. "I like to see the look on their faces after we win. All they do -- calling us on the phone -- is a waste. Now they get to be sick until they play us another year."

The Jayhawks enjoyed paying back the Antlers, who jeered the team during warm-ups and placed posters with phone numbers of KU's players on the KU campus last week.

They also met the Jayhawks at the team hotel Saturday, but were shooed away by security. One Antler had a sign that read, "Plane Crash," apparently meant to bother Collison, whose grandfather survived a plane crash in World War II.

"The Antlers had my phone number on a poster here today. It was good to shut 'em up," said sophomore Aaron Miles, whose improbable line-drive three-pointer tied the game at 74 with 1:20 left.

Hinrich was jazzed after KU wrapped up the league title at 14-2, a full game better than Texas.

"It was a huge game," Hinrich said after improving to 2-2 in his career at Hearnes Center. "I think we made a lot of mistakes, but we were into it from the jump ball. It means a lot to win it again. We showed a lot of heart playing without Wayne.

"A lot of guys stepped up," Hinrich added, referring to guys like Michael Lee (11 points in 16 minutes) filling in for injured Wayne Simien, who played in just three league games plus 40 seconds of a fourth this season.

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