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Kansas Sinks Pacific

Jayhawks overcome the determined Tigers, 78-63, and advance to the round of 16.

March 22, 2004|John Jeansonne | Newsday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the spoiled fans of Kansas basketball, there always is a thin line between being a champ and a chump.

And for most of Sunday's second-round game, lightly regarded Pacific was threatening to catch Kansas in the NCAA tournament's revolving door about a week short of local partisans' expectations.

The Jayhawks managed to hold off No. 12-seeded Pacific for a 78-63 victory and a trip to the round of 16 in the St. Louis Regional , but it wasn't easy.

With 9 minutes 44 seconds to play, Pacific (25-8) was matching No. 4-seeded Kansas (23-8) with its own shining display of basketball and was down only 55-53.

Throughout the first half and the early going of the second half, Pacific was fighting off the bigger, stronger Kansas players as well as the Kansas backers among the 17,667 in the crowd, repeatedly recovering from deficits as large as 11 points to pull even.

With 12:16 remaining, Pacific's French-born Guillaume Yango, who finished with a game-high 22 points, spun the basket for a layup, was fouled and made the free throw to tie the score, 47-47.

"When 'G' went to the hole and got the foul, I thought we had the momentum and could maybe pull away from them," point guard Miah Davis said.

"I felt we played toe to toe with Kansas. But it came down to the last eight minutes and making shots."

Pacific "scratched and clawed the whole game," Kansas' 6-foot-9 standout Wayne Simien said.

But with the 55-53 lead, the Jayhawks took off on an 18-4 dash that led to the end of Pacific's season.

Simien had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Keith Langford scored 16 points, and Jeff Graves had 12 points and seven rebounds for Kansas.

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