Collison's 33 help Kansas drop Duke

Center's scoring in post, Devils' icy 3-point stroke pit Jayhawks vs. Arizona, 69-65

Top 2 seeds to meet for West crown

Duke's Redick is 2-for-16

Hinrich struggles for KU

March 28, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The season appeared in jeopardy for Kansas last night. The end of Kirk Hinrich's marvelous career as a Jayhawk seemed to be heading for its conclusion -- another disappointing defeat in the NCAA tournament.

Nick Collison wouldn't allow either to happen in the West Regional semifinal at the Arrowhead Pond.

Carrying the second-seeded Jayhawks on his broad shoulders, Collison made several huge plays down the stretch in a career-high 33-point, 19-rebound performance that lifted Kansas to a 69-65 victory over third-seeded Duke.

The victory put Kansas (28-7) into tomorrow's regional final against top-seeded Arizona (28-3), which earlier defeated Notre Dame, 88-71. The winner will advance to the Final Four next week in New Orleans.

"It was a sensational college basketball game," said Kansas coach Roy Williams, whose Jayhawks reached the Elite Eight for the second straight year. "At the end, you feel fortunate to be the one with the most points when the clock stops."

When the clock stopped, so did Duke's season. It was the second straight year that Duke (26-7) had lost in the Sweet 16. It wasn't who scored for the Blue Devils -- senior forward Dahntay Jones led Duke with 23 -- but who didn't.

Freshman sensation J.J. Redick finished with five points while missing 14 of 16 shots, including 10 of 11 on three-pointers. Redick had come into the game shooting better than 41 percent from the field.

"My shot wasn't falling," said Redick, a 6-foot-4 guard. "I don't know any other way to explain it. My coaches were telling me to keep shooting. I had a lot of opportunities, but I couldn't knock them down."

Said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: "I'm looking forward to the next three years [with Redick]. Sometimes you have to lose to appreciate the level of winning that you want."

One thing that Krzyzewski and his Blue Devils seemed to appreciate above all was the performance by Collison.

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

Said Jones: "He is the best player in the country."

Collison, a 6-9, 255-pound forward, overpowered Duke by making 14 of 22 shots, with three of his baskets (including a three-point play) coming after the Blue Devils had gone ahead for the last time at 57-56 with 7:47 to go.

"In the first half they kept me from getting the ball," said Collison, who still managed 12 points and helped the Jayhawks back from a nine-point deficit to tie the score at 35 at halftime.

When point guard Hinrich went to the bench with his fourth personal foul, there were a little under eight minutes left and the Jayhawks were trailing 57-56. Collison then scored the next seven points to turn the deficit into a 63-57 lead.

"All night I tried to be aggressive," Collison said. "When Kirk left, I was already in that mode. We have a lot of guys who can step up and I didn't have to do anything extra."

After Casey Sanders hit a pair of free throws to cut Duke's deficit to 63-59, Kansas had a chance to put the game away. But junior forward Jeff Graves twice missed the front end of one-and-ones to open the door for the Blue Devils.

But it closed when Collison gave the Jayhawks a 65-59 lead by rebounding his own miss and putting in the follow as he was falling down. Leading 68-61, Kansas got a little sloppy, allowing the Blue Devils to score on a drive by Jones and then turned the ball over on the inbounds pass. Jones scored again.

The Blue Devils would get no closer. Sophomore point guard Aaron Miles made one of two free throws with 16 seconds to go and Redick, for the last time in a long and frustrating game, missed a leaning three-point shot as the time ticked away.

Asked if this year's Sweet 16 defeat to Kansas was any different from last year's to Indiana, junior guard Chris Duhon said, "I don't think that makes any difference. I think we got a lot of open shots. They just didn't fall. Things didn't go our way."

The victory will allow the Jayhawks to redeem themselves for one of their most disappointing defeats this season -- against Arizona. In a late-January game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas led by as many as 20 points but wound up losing to the Wildcats by 17.

But Kansas was not thinking about that game, at least not yet.

The Jayhawks were still savoring a victory over Duke -- not just the team, but the program -- that might have made up for some recent defeats, including a second-round loss to the Blue Devils when Collison and Hinrich were freshmen. Williams, too, knew how difficult it had been to overcome the aura.

"We went in at halftime and I challenged my players," Williams said. "Jeff [Graves] was in foul trouble and Kirk hadn't scored. You always have that feeling that something [bad] is going to happen because of Duke's success."

Hinrich would only score two points while sitting out much of the second half in foul trouble. Graves would stay in the game, but was barely a factor. Sophomore swingman Keith Langford would be left limping around on a sprained foot.

It came down to Collison.

He came up big.

"It's got to be up there," Collison said long after the game. "I played really well against Texas. With all on the line, if you lose you're gone. I will be proud of this one for a long time."

Collison will remember it, too.

As will Redick, at least until his sophomore season begins.

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