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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Despite rout, KU barely favorite

Huskers shot poorly during earlier loss in Allen

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— A 42-point winner over Nebraska 18 days ago in Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas University's men's basketball team is favored by just four points tonight in the KU-NU rematch.

Tipoff is 6:30 p.m. in Devaney Center.

A close study of the Jayhawks' 96-54 victory over the Huskers might explain the disparity.

"They missed 17 shots that game inside of three feet," said KU coach Bill Self, amazed when studying the tape of a game in which the Huskers made 17 of 62 shots for 27.4 percent. "Obviously, they got the ball where they wanted it to go. We'll harp on those things as opposed to what the actual score was."

The Cornhuskers (15-6 overall, 5-3 Big 12 Conference) are 3-1 since the loss to the Jayhawks (15-6, 6-2), who take a five-game winning streak into tonight's contest.

"Kansas scored 196 or 96 on us, one or the other," said NU coach Barry Collier, whose team is 3-0 since Joe McCray was dismissed from the team. "Kansas didn't just cut our hair, they shaved our head when we played them in Lawrence."

Collier obviously likes KU's team.

"They only lead the nation in field-goal-percentage defense," Collier said of KU, which has held foes to 35.7 percent shooting, "and they are in the top 20 in shooting percentage (25th nationally at 48.3 percent). They are unselfish, a good passing team. They've played hard and grown up as a team. The whole way through they've played great defense."

¢ Giles can score, too: KU sophomore center C.J. Giles, who blocked three shots in 12 minutes Sunday, was asked if he was a defensive specialist.

"I can do other things," said Giles, who averages 6.4 points per game but has no double-figure scoring outings in conference play. "My number-one priority is defense. I don't need to get stupid fouls, just try to contest everything, block the shot when I know I can."

As far as offense ... Giles said he once scored 41 in a game for Rainier Beach High. His college career high is 21 versus Chaminade.

"He is not a great college scorer yet," KU coach Self said. "He had some double-figure games, but the thing with C.J., he needs to worry not about scoring but needs to worry about doing the things he did against Oklahoma and the scoring will come. He needs confidence. The best way to get confidence scoring the ball is to get early baskets off second shots or run outs as opposed to putting pressure on himself to make a 15-footer."

¢ Keeping pace: KU enters at 6-2 in the league - a game behind 7-1 Texas. Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado are right behind KU at 5-3. "For us to keep contact with Texas, it's pivotal without question," Self said of today's game. "They (Longhorns) have four road wins out of five. We have three out of four. We better take care of business to maintain contact."

¢ Collins in Jordan game: KU signee Sherron Collins, a 5-foot-11 guard from Chicago's Crane High, on Tuesday was picked to play in the Jordan All-America Classic, set for April 22 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The game is set for 7 p.m. Central time, with tickets available at ticketmaster.com.

Other preps to play in the game: Demond Carter (Baylor), Duke Crews (Tennessee), Kevin Durant (Texas), Wayne Ellington (North Carolina), Paul Harris (Syracuse), Spencer Hawes (Washington), Mike Jones (Syracuse), Curtis Kelly (UConn), Jon Kreft (Florida State), Tywon Lawson (North Carolina), Vernon Macklin (Georgetown), Obi Muonelo (Oklahoma State), Jon Scheyer (Duke), DeShawn Sims (Michigan), Edgar Sosa (Louisville), DaJuan Summers (Georgetown), Brandan Wright (North Carolina), Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech) and Brian Zoubek (Duke).

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