Sunday, April 6, 2003

Kansas 94, Marquette 61

Jayhawks exude perfection; Overmatched Golden Eagles overwhelmed

Tucson Citizen

Kansas' Nick Collison, left, and Kirk Hinrich smile on the bench in the closing minutes of the Jayhawks' 94-61 win over Marquette.
(AP photo)
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NEW ORLEANS - Marquette's biggest fear - outside of Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich going off offensively - was Kansas going on uncontrollable offensive runs.

Well, the Golden Eagles failed the fear factor test - in near record-breaking fashion.

For Kansas, speed thrilled - and killed as the Golden Eagles' fears were realized in a humbling fashion as Kansas, a No. 2 seed playing like a No. 1 seed this NCAA Tournament, dismantled No. 3 seed Marquette 94-61 Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome.

The 33-point difference is the fourth largest margin of victory in a Final Four game.

"The first 25-30 minutes was sensational," said Kansas coach Roy Williams.

Kansas (30-7) advances to its first NCAA title game since 1991 when it lost to Duke in the title game. Kansas won the 1988 NCAA title.

"It's everybody's dream to play in the national championship game and win it," said Kansas' Nick Collison, who finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. "We're just at that step where we have one game to play. If we play well, we have a great shot at winning.

Particularly if they play as well as they did against the Golden Eagles.

Five Jayhawks scored in double figures with Keith Langford leading the way with 23 points, 16 coming in the decisive first half. Hinrich and Aaron Miles each added 18 points. Michael Lee had 13.

Kansas used surgeon-like precision in handing the Golden Eagles (27-6) their worst loss of the season.

How dominating was Kansas?

• Marquette hadn't scored its 40th point before Kansas had a 40-point lead. Marquette scored Nos. 40-and 41 two minutes after Kansas had taken a 75-34 lead with 14 minutes left.

• Kansas' 59-first half points were the second most by a team in a half in Final Four history. UCLA had 65 in 1965.

• Kansas' 29-point halftime lead (59-30) was the second largest.

• Kansas limited Marquette to 25 percent shooting in the first half; and hit 60 percent of its shots. Marquette eventually finished shooting 31 percent; Kansas finished at 53.5 percent.

Defeat doesn't come any easier to explain.

"We let our defense take control of the game," Hinrich said. "We were making things tough for them. When we get stops and are able to get out and run like that, we're a tough team to beat."

Kansas' blows were painful and persistent. And they came so quickly. But as always that's Kansas' plan - attack early and often.

"It's not us running faster than anyone," Langford said. "It's just the fact that we're going to continue to do it. I think a couple of possessions they kind of celebrated the score. And we were on the other end attacking and scoring. We got a couple of easy baskets. We just kept pushing."

And Marquette broke.

After the two teams were tied at 12 with 13:57 left, Kansas used its superior speed to go on a 13-2 run. The lead went from comfortable to dominating as Kansas extended its run to 27-4 to take a 39-18 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the first half.

After Marquette cut the lead to 15 (the closest it would get) at 41-26, Kansas returned to with an 18-2 run to end the first half. Then the Jayhawks opened the second half with a 14-0 run, converting on their first seven possessions.

"I can't remember any time where we've done that kind of thing," Williams said. "We're a team of runs. We feel like we have some kind of mentality on the offensive end that we can get some things going and make a run or two during the course of the game. (Those runs) were pretty impressive."

MARQUETTE (27-6) - Townsend 0-3 1-2 1, Merritt 5-14 2-2 12, Jackson 6-12 3-4 15, Wade 7-15 4-8 19, Diener 1-11 2-2 5, Bradley 1-7 0-0 3, Sichting 0-0 0-0 0, Novak 1-7 0-0 2, Gries 0-0 0-0 0, Chapman 0-3 0-0 0, Grimm 1-1 0-0 2, Sanders 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 23-74 12-18 61.

KANSAS (30-7) - Collison 6-7 0-0 12, Langford 11-14 1-3 23, Graves 2-4 1-4 5, Hinrich 6-13 3-4 18, Miles 7-12 2-3 18, Hawkins 0-3 0-0 0, Olson 0-1 0-0 0, Vinson 0-2 0-0 0, Lee 4-8 2-2 13, Nash 1-4 1-1 3, Moody 0-0 0-0 0, Niang 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 38-71 10-17 94.

Halftime-Kansas 59-30. 3-Point Goals-Marquette 3-16 (Wade 1-1, Bradley 1-3, Diener 1-5, Chapman 0-1, Townsend 0-1, Novak 0-5), Kansas 8-19 (Lee 3-3, Hinrich 3-7, Miles 2-4, Langford 0-1, Nash 0-1, Vinson 0-1, Hawkins 0-2). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Marquette 39 (Merritt 11), Kansas 52 (Collison 15). Assists-Marquette 7 (Wade 4), Kansas 22 (Collison 5). Total fouls-Marquette 17, Kansas 15. A-54,432.

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