Friday, March 28, 2003

Kansas 69, Duke 65

6-9 Collison dominates the game

By John Nadel
The Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Nick Collison played the game of his life. And that's what Roy Williams needed to get that elusive win over Coach K. Collison scored a career-high 33 points and had 19 rebounds while playing all 40 minutes to lead the Jayhawks over Duke 69-65 in the semifinals of the West Regional on Thursday night.

A 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward Mike Krzyzewski tried to recruit to Duke, Collison scored seven straight points to give second-seeded Kansas a 63-57 lead with 5:41 remaining.

The Jayhawks were on top the rest of the way.

"With it all on the line, if you lose you're done, I'll be proud of this one for a long time," Collison said.

"I told him in the locker room, `Man, did you play your buns off tonight,"' Williams said. "He's had some big-time games for us. We didn't think they had the strength or experience inside."

Williams said he believes Collison, a senior, was only the fifth player in his tenure at Kansas to play the entire game.

"It was crucial for Nick to stay out of foul trouble," Williams said. "At the end of the game, if he had given me the tired signal, all of a sudden my vision would have gotten a lot worse."

Collison made 14-of-22 shots, scoring mostly from inside.

"That's one of the great performances you can have in a tournament," Krzyzewski said. "He played like a champion. It took that kind of effort because our kids played like champions tonight."

Kansas (28-7) will face Arizona on Saturday with the winner going to the Final Four. The top-seeded Wildcats (28-3) beat fifth-seeded Notre Dame 88-71 earlier Thursday at Anaheim Arena.

Kansas led Arizona by as many as 20 points before losing a 91-74 decision to the Wildcats in Lawrence, Kan., on Jan. 25.

"We're going to enjoy the dickens out of this one tonight," Williams said. "We'll start working on Arizona tomorrow."

Williams, in his 15th year as coach of the Jayhawks, was 0-3 in matchups with Krzyzewski, including a 72-65 defeat in the national championship game 12 years ago.

Williams played at North Carolina and was an assistant coach under longtime Tar Heels coach Dean Smith before taking the job at Kansas in 1988.

"The fact that you beat Duke doesn't make it any better because I'm a North Carolina guy," Williams said. "When you're playing Duke, you always have this feeling that something's going to happen because of how successful they've been, and rightfully so."

It wasn't to be on this night.

Dahntay Jones led third-seeded Duke (26-7) with 23 points and seven rebounds. Daniel Ewing added 13 points and Chris Duhon scored 12. Freshman J.J. Redick shot 2-of-16 in scoring only five points.

The game matched two of college basketball's top coaches and elite programs. Duke has been to 13 Final Fours - nine under Krzyzewski - and Kansas to 11 - three under Williams.

Krzyzewski's 60 NCAA tournament wins are the second-most ever behind the 65 of the now-retired Smith.

Williams has a 32-13 record in the tournament. His .806 winning percentage (416-100) in 15 years at Kansas is the best among active coaches with six or more years of experience and third-best ever.

Krzyzewski is 663-274, including 590-175 in 23 years at Duke.

The game didn't reflect the fact that the Kansas entered averaging 83 and Duke almost 82, making them two of the six highest-scoring teams in the country.

Aaron Miles scored with 52.7 seconds left to put Kansas ahead 67-61, and Michael Lee added a free throw with 34.1 seconds to play for a seven-point lead.

Jones made two baskets for Duke before Miles made a free throw with 16.8 seconds left to complete the scoring.

"We shot our bullets, we couldn't get anything to go down tonight," said Duhon, who like Collison played all 40 minutes.

Duke shot 44.8 percent to 43.3 percent for Kansas, but the Jayhawks outrebounded the Blue Devils 47-33.

Keith Langford added 13 points for the Jayhawks. Kirk Hinrich, averaging 17.5 points, shot 1-of-9 for two points, but it didn't matter.

And Williams praised Hinrich's defensive effort.

Jones scored five points to spark a 9-1 run to start the second half to put Duke on top 44-36. But the Jayhawks scored the next nine points - four by Collison - for a one-point lead.

Neither team led by more than two points after that until Collison got going. He wound up scoring 12 straight points for his team.

Hinrich scored his only points with 12:25 left on a short jumper to tie it at 49.

It was 35-all at halftime despite the fact that Hinrich didn't score and Redick shot 1-of-6 for three points. Redick, called the nation's best freshman by Krzyzewski, was averaging 15.3 points.

Lacking in depth to begin with in part because of a season-ending shoulder injury to starter Wayne Simien last month, Kansas received a blow when center Jeff Graves picked up his third foul midway through the first half.

But his teammates picked up the slack after Ewing and Redick made 3-pointers to give Duke a 22-13 lead - largest of the game for either team.

It was 27-20 when Kansas went on a 15-8 run to finish the half.

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