Kansas takes down UAB, 100-74

Jayhawks blitz Blazers to advance

Simien gets 30 points, nine rebounds

Ncaa Regional

St. Louis

March 27, 2004|By Neil Best | Neil Best,NEWSDAY

ST. LOUIS - The idea, as always, was to run. But it was clear from the outset last night that Alabama-Birmingham would run into roadblocks at every turn.

It ran into a wall of sound from a pro-Kansas crowd at the Edward Jones Dome and the weight of 106 years of Jayhawks tradition, represented on the bench by former star Danny Manning.

Mostly, the Blazers - a 25-year-old program that dreams big - were stopped cold by an exemplary effort from the current Kansas players.

The Jayhawks clinically dismantled UAB's trademark pressure defense, ruled the paint and shrugged off the Blazers' fast-break offense for a 100-74 rout in an NCAA tournament St. Louis Regional semifinal.

No. 4 seed Kansas (24-8) will face No. 3 seed Georgia Tech tomorrow. The Yellow Jackets beat Nevada, 72-67, last night.

The Jayhawks, who are one victory from their third consecutive Final Four, went ahead 22-8 and never were in danger. They led 56-41 at halftime and by as many as 31 points, 97-66, with 3:38 left. Kansas has won its three NCAA games by 25, 15 and 26 points.

"We're playing better right now than we have at any point this year," said Bill Self, who is in his first season as Kansas' coach.

The crowd cheered when Omar Wilkes (the son of former NBA star Jamaal) made a free throw with 8.6 seconds left to make it 100. Kansas is 94-0 all time when it scores at least 100 points.

It was a dreary finish for No. 9 seed UAB (22-10), which last week upset top-seeded Kentucky. Adding to the embarrassment was the ejection of coach Mike Anderson with 5:24 left after he was called for his second technical foul for walking onto the court during play.

Anderson had to be restrained from going after referee Bob Donato and eventually was escorted off the court. He said later that he had been trying to get the officials' attention to call a timeout.

Kansas forward Wayne Simien dominated inside, scoring 30 points in 28 minutes on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and 18-for-20 from the foul line. The 18 free throws were four more than Wilt Chamberlain's 47-year-old school record for an NCAA tournament game.

"Fouling was the only thing they could do," Simien said.

Perhaps even more important was the play of guard Aaron Miles, who early on broke UAB's press. He finished with 13 points, 10 assists, four steals and four rebounds.

Simien credited Self with having the team practice against eight defenders during the week to simulate the UAB press.

"Once we went against five guys out there, it seemed pretty easy," Simien said.

Once Kansas got past midcourt, it scored with ease. The Jayhawks, who had a big size advantage, had 48 points in the paint.

UAB's Mo Finley was 4-for-19 from the field. UAB scored only two points on fast breaks.

"They knew our weakest points, and they did a good job of exploiting it," Finley said.

By the second half, UAB rarely bothered to press against a Kansas team that entering the game appeared vulnerable because of a series of nagging injuries.

J.R. Giddens scored 18 points for Kansas, which out-rebounded UAB 45-33.

Kansas is the third school Self has taken to a regional final, with Tulsa in 2000 and Illinois in 2001.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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