Originally created 03/27/04

Kansas blazes trail into Elite 8



ST. LOUIS - Wayne Simien, Aaron Miles and Kansas put Alabama-Birmingham through its own version of "40 Minutes of Hell."

Simien had 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists and the Jayhawks had few problems handling UAB's frenetic defense Friday night, moving a step closer to their third consecutive Final Four with a 100-74 victory in the St. Louis Regional semifinals.

Kansas (24-8) advanced to play the winner of the Nevada-Georgia Tech game for a trip to San Antonio. The regional final will be played Sunday.

The Jayhawks, who practiced against eight players this week to prepare for UAB's pressing defense, committed 17 turnovers and were forced into plenty of silly errors but offset that by beating the Blazers at their own chaotic game.

Miles keyed it all by outrunning the press, either hitting all sorts of twisting layups or dishing off to wide-open teammates. He finished with 10 assists.

Freshman J.R. Giddens had 18 points, and Jeff Graves added 13 points and eight rebounds.

The ninth-seeded Blazers (22-10) made it to St. Louis after ousting the tournament's top overall seed, Kentucky, and had boasted earlier in the week about how their run-and-gun style of play had worn down the heavily favored Wildcats.

In the end, it was UAB that looked weary.

The Blazers shot just 32 percent from the field, were outrebounded 45-33 and allowed an opponent to score more than 100 points for only the second time this year - the other one came in a 102-100 victory over Washington in the first round of the tournament.

Second-year coach Mike Anderson learned the renowned "40 Minutes of Hell" defense while serving as an assistant under Nolan Richardson at Arkansas and Tulsa for 20 years.

That defense sent Arkansas to three Final Fours and the 1994 national championship. It also helped turn around UAB's mediocre program, propelling the Blazers into the round of 16 for only the second time in their 25-year history.

Kansas even looked ripe for an upset, with five key players all dealing with injuries.

It didn't matter in this one. The Jayhawks showed why underdogs rarely have their day deep in the tournament.

Anderson and Richardson, who sat a few rows behind UAB's bench, grew increasingly frustrated as a bigger, more talented team took over this game.

Anderson was eventually thrown out of the game with 5:24 left after getting hit with his second technical foul for berating official Bob Donato Jr. He was pleading for a foul after UAB guard Mo Finley was knocked to the floor after colliding with Giddens on a fast break.

That might have been the last time on the bench with the Blazers for Anderson, rumored to be a leading candidate for the vacant Auburn job.

If that was the end, it was an ugly way to go out.

UAB led only once - a free throw by Demario Eddins put the Blazers up 1-0 just 39 seconds into the game.

From there, it was all Jayhawks.