Gooden leads Kansas to undefeated season

Jayhawks complete flawless season

Posted: Monday, March 04, 2002

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Top-ranked Kansas finished the first unbeaten Big 12 season by beating the team that gives the Jayhawks fits.

Five of the previous six times they played at Missouri with a top-five ranking, they lost. In both 1997 and '98, the Missouri game was their only loss in conference play.

This time, Kansas passed the final exam, surviving a tight final few minutes for a 95-92 victory on Sunday. Nick Collison had 28 points and seven rebounds and Kirk Hinrich had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Jayhawks (27-2, 16-0).

''Kansas has obviously had its struggles against Missouri,'' Collison said. ''It was kind of like that test that was waiting at the end. If we were going to go undefeated, we were going to have to win at Missouri, and we got it done.''

The best thing about beating Missouri, the way Kansas coach Roy Williams saw it, was he won't have to answer questions about why he didn't win.

''And the second best, and it is in that order, is that it makes us 16-0,'' he said.

Nothing was certain until the final buzzer.

Missouri (20-10, 9-7) trailed by as many as 11 points after halftime but twice rallied to tie it and briefly led after Arthur Johnson's three-point play made it 92-91 with 1:57 to go.

Kansas quickly regained control as Collison connected from the key with 1:36 to go and Drew Gooden's tip rolled in with 26 seconds left for a three-point lead.

Missouri had several missed opportunities in the closing minutes. Kareem Rush missed a turnaround jumper with 1:14 left and a chance to take the lead, then his errant pass was intercepted by Jeff Boschee with about 15 seconds to go and Kansas up by three.

Rickey Paulding blocked Boschee's layup with about nine seconds to go and Missouri called a timeout with 6.2 seconds remaining to set up a final chance. But Clarence Gilbert, who had 27 points in his final regular-season home game, hit the backboard but not the rim on a 3-point attempt with about two seconds left.

''I won't ever play in front of that crowd again, and that doesn't feel good,'' Gilbert said. ''I tried to give them a win, but it just didn't fall.''

Gilbert also was called for double-dribbling with 57 seconds to go.

''Nobody's hurting more right now than Clarence and Kareem,'' Tigers coach Quin Snyder said. ''It wouldn't be the ending we would write to this game.''

Kansas will enter the Big 12 tournament with a 14-game winning streak, last losing at then-No. 11 UCLA in early January. It wrapped up the perfect season on the same court where a Missouri team featuring guard Melvin Booker became the last Big Eight team to go unbeaten in 1993-94.

There was quite a bit of celebrating as the Kansas players left the court with their fingers raised high in the air. Hinrich entered the locker room with a shout of ''Making history!''

''It's a happy locker room,'' Williams said. ''The kids, they never had a goal to be 16-0, but as it came closer down the stretch they were asked about it so often.

''It never became a goal of mine until after the Kansas State game, but it feels good to do it now.''

Kansas State was the team Kansas beat 103-68 to go 15-0 in the conference,

Still, players know this isn't the end.

''We do definitely have our minds on bigger things,'' Collison said. ''We'd much rather go 15-1 and win a national championship.''

Kansas beat Missouri 105-73 on Jan. 28, in Lawrence, Kan. Missouri enters the Big 12 tournament as the sixth seed and a first-round matchup against Iowa State on Thursday night after being ranked No. 2 in the nation in December.

''Our confidence is really high,'' Rush said. ''We could have easily won this game, but now it's on to preparing for Iowa State.''

Paulding added 23 points and Rush had 22 for Missouri, which also got 15 points and eight rebounds from Johnson.

Free throw shooting hurt Missouri, which was 22-for-35 from the line. Gilbert, an 82-percent shooter, was 6-for-10.

Kansas shot 53 percent in the first half, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and held Missouri to 38 percent to take a 54-45 lead. The Tigers missed a chance to make it closer, hitting only three of its last eight free throws.

Kansas made nine of its last 13 shots in the first half and finished with a 13-4 run for a 54-45 lead. Collison had eight of his 17 first-half points in the last 3:13.

No. 4 Cincinnati 80, Memphis 75, OT

CINCINNATI -- Steve Logan scored 30 points and hit a floating jumper that sent the game to overtime as the Bearcats (27-3, 14-2 Conference USA) rallied for the win.

Cincinnati has won or shared each of the league's seven regular season titles and earned the top seed for all seven conference tournaments.

Dajuan Wagner had 27 points for Memphis (22-8, 12-4), which took a 68-66 lead on Antonio Burks' two free throws with 6.9 seconds left in regulation.

The Bearcats scored 10 of their 12 points in overtime on free throws.

Mississippi 84, No. 6 Alabama 56

OXFORD, Miss. -- David Sanders scored a season-high 23 points and the Rebels (20-9, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) beat a sixth-ranked team at home for the second time in 15 days.

Rod Grizzard and Antoine Pettway each had 14 points for the Crimson Tide (24-6, 12-4), who matched a season low in points and committed 26 turnovers.

Mississippi, which took a 22-4 lead eight minutes into the game, had beaten then-No. 6 Florida 68-51 on Feb. 16.

No. 2 Maryland 112, Virginia 92

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland ended its 47-year stay at Cole Field House in grand fashion, defeating Virginia to finish 15-0 at home and conclude the best regular season in school history.

Juan Dixon scored 23 points, Chris Wilcox had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Lonny Baxter added 18 points for the Terrapins (25-3, 15-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who will move across campus next season into the $101 million Comcast Center.

The ACC champs won their 12th straight and eclipsed the 22-3 regular-season record of the 1974-75 squad.

Chris Williams scored a season-high 28 points and Travis Watson had 20 for Virginia (17-10, 7-9), which was coming off an upset of No. 3 Duke. It was the sixth straight road loss for the Cavaliers and their ninth successive defeat at Cole.

No. 7 Gonzaga 87, San Diego 79

SAN DIEGO -- Blake Stepp made a 3-pointer from 25 feet with 51.2 seconds left and finished with 26 points as Gonzaga beat San Diego to reach the West Coast Conference tournament championship game for the fifth straight season.

Gonzaga (28-3) is trying for its fourth straight conference tournament championship and automatic NCAA berth.

The second-seeded Zags, who have reached the NCAA regionals three straight seasons, tied the school record for victories, set by the 1998-99 team that reached the West Regional finals.

Although Gonzaga beat San Diego for the third straight year in the tournament semifinals, there was nothing easy about the Bulldogs' 13th straight victory.

The fifth-seeded Toreros (16-13) led 47-40 at halftime.



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