Dec 1, 2001
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
TUCSON, Ariz. - Kansas had too much muscle, shooting skill and experience for youthful Arizona.
Drew Gooden had 23 points and tied his career high with 15 rebounds, and Jeff Boschee scored 19 as the eighth-ranked Jayhawks defeated No. 4 Arizona 105-97 Saturday.
The Wildcats cut a 16-point deficit with 11 minutes left to four on two occasions, but each time the cool Jayhawks pulled away.
"In the first half we couldn't keep up with our transition game," Gooden said. "In the second half we had some letdowns on defense but were able to hit the buckets to stop their runs."
Keith Langford, a freshman, had a season-high 19 points, Kirk Hinrich had 16 points and nine assists and Nick Collison had 14 and nine rebounds for the Jayhawks (4-1), who beat the Wildcats for the fifth time in six meetings.
"I'm just ecstatic," coach Roy Williams said. "You have to feel bad for Arizona, because they played well. We had to continue to tell our guys to play hard, and we made clutch shots at the end."
Jason Gardner scored a career-high 34 points for the Wildcats (3-1).
Arizona got within 87-83 when Walton made two free throws with 3:43 to go, and were close again at 99-95 on a 3-pointer by Anderson with 28 seconds remaining.
But Jeff Carey made two free throws and Hinrich four in the remaining time.
"You could see the experience," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "They played a whole lot smarter than we did. The key is that Kansas played with great emotion and poise for 40 minutes."
Kansas won the last previous meeting Dec. 2, 1997, in the Great Eight in Chicago, only months after Arizona knocked the Jayhawks out of the 1997 NCAA Southeast Regional.
Arizona was playing its eighth ranked team in a row. But the Wildcats looked like a team inexperienced in tight games, shooting just 35.3 percent and handling the ball like a squad with six freshmen among its nine scholarship players - which it is.
"Getting down by 15 points in the first half against a team like Kansas is tough to come back against," said Gardner, who was 11-of-22, including 8-of-16 on 3-pointers. "Our first four games were against the top teams in the country, but losing this game puts our heads back in the right place."
The Wildcats trailed 75-59 when Langford made a short jumper with 10:59 remaining.
After Arizona got within 87-83, the Jayhawks called timeout, and Hinrich made a layup. Then Boschee hit a 3-pointer with 2:45 left and two free throws 31 seconds later, opening a 94-84 lead.
No more than two points separated the teams until Boschee started a 9-2 surge with a 3-pointer 5:05 into the game.
Gooden completed it with a tip-in 6:59 in, sending the Jayhawks to a 21-15 lead.
Gardner interrupted a spate of blown layups and missed perimeter shots by Arizona with a pair of 3-pointers midway through the first half, but Boschee answered the second with a 3-pointer and a sparkling reverse layup on a follow shot.
That got a 15-6 run going, and after Gooden's second straight layup Kansas led 38-27 with 6:20 to go.
The defeat was the first in a home opener since Arkansas won in Tucson nine years ago, and the third for Olson in 19 home openers.
"This was a big win," Collison said. "Not very many teams can win here. It was just really big."