Saturday, March 30, 2002

Kansas, Maryland know how to score

Jayhawks boast nation's No. 1 offense

The Associated Press

        ATLANTA — The folks at the Georgia Dome might want to change the bulbs in the scoreboard before Kansas and Maryland play today in the Final Four. These teams can score. A lot.

        Kansas leads the nation at 91 points a game. Maryland is a couple of spots behind at 85.3.

        The similarities don't stop there.

        They're both top seeds from their regions. Each won regular-season titles in two of the nation's top conferences. Both spent the entire season ranked in the Top 10. Each has an All-American.

        But it's the way these teams can score that got them to the national semifinals.

        The record set in a 1965 semifinal, when UCLA beat Wichita State 108-89, might be safe, but this surely won't be like Michigan State's 53-41 win over Wisconsin in 2000.

        The Jayhawks (33-3) got to their first Final Four since 1993 with a 104-86 victory over Oregon. It was the second-most points scored in this year's tournament, but Kansas topped that total seven times this season.

        The Jayhawks use size and speed to pour in the points.

        “I think if they watched the Oregon game, they kind of found that out,” Kansas All-American forward Drew Gooden said Friday. “That was a track meet. That was an up-and-down game. We could run with the best of them.”

        The Terrapins (30-4) are more than ready for the challenge.

        “We don't mind getting in a track meet,” Maryland All-American guard Juan Dixon said. “We like to run. That's part of our game.”

        Despite all the similarities, there are also big differences between these teams.

        Kansas plays three guards, and its big men — 6-foot-10 Gooden and 6-9 Nick Collison — are extremely mobile and fill the lanes on the break.

        Maryland has a more traditional lineup with two guards, two forwards and a post player, although Dixon thinks center Lonny Baxter can handle himself in the open court.

        “We're a very fortunate team because we can go inside-out,” said Dixon, averaging 26 points in the four NCAA Tournament games. “Our game plan is to start the ball inside to Lonny and Chris Wilcox and work our way out. We don't mind running the transition. Lonny is 6-8, 265 pounds, and he might be one of the most agile players on our team. He gets up and down the court just like a guard would. Chris does the same.”

        Kansas coach Roy Williams said Gooden and Collison made it easy to turn the Jayhawks into a running team.

        “We looked at those two guys and felt they would be able to at least run as well as most of the other teams' big men. In fact, they would be able to run better than a lot of them,” Williams said.

        Gooden and Collison aren't just speedsters. The Jayhawks outrebound their opponents by almost 14 a game, with Gooden averaging 13.0 and Collison 11.5. Kansas outrebounded Oregon 63-34.


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