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 straight Final Four with
a 100-74 victory in the St. Louis Regional semifinals.
Fourth-seeded Kansas (24-8) advanced to play Georgia Tech, which beat Nevada. The winner gets a trip to San Antonio. The regional
final will be played Sunday.
"When they got us down, they kept us down," UAB's Gabe Kennedy
said. "They just stepped on our throat and wouldn't let up."
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.
"It was like a day back in the rec center," Miles said. "You
know, if your guy doesn't guard you, you get an easy lay-up."
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.
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.
Kansas coach Bill Self has now taken his third team, including
Tulsa in 2000 and Illinois in 2001, to the round of eight. He has
never been to a Final Four.
"We haven't punched the ticket yet. Hopefullly this is the year
we cash in," Self said. "I would say there's been far less
fanfare with this team than the other two. I haven't been to the
Final Four, but they have."
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.
"I don't know what happened. I think I was calling for a
timeout," Anderson said of the first ejection of his career. "A
play just took place and one of my guys were down. It was getting
ugly and I wanted a timeout. That's what took place."
That might have been the last time on the bench with the Blazers
for Anderson, rumored to be a leading candidate for the vacant
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 Rock, Chalk, Jayhawks!
Simien had 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first half even
though he sat out nearly five minutes after picking up his second
The 6-foot-9, 250-pound junior forward, who missed all of
Kansas' postseason run last year with an injured shoulder, has more
than made up for that absence.
Simien scored on a variety of dunks, feathery shots in the lane
and made 18-of-20 free throws.
Simien's 18 free throws set a Kansas NCAA record, topping the 14
by Wilt Chamberlain against Oklahoma City in 1957.
"I was getting great post position," Simien said. "Fouling
was the only thing they could do."
Meanwhile, Finley, who knocked down the game-winning shot
against Kentucky last week, missed his first six shots before
hitting a jumper with 7:29 left in the first half.
The Blazers missed 13 of their first 15 shots, falling behind by
12 points seven minutes into the game. Kansas led 56-41 at halftime
and quickly built on its lead in the second half.
The Jayhawks led by as many as 30 points in the game's final
Finley finished with 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
"It was just the way it went tonight -- a lot of shots went in
and out," Finley said. "The ball doesn't always bounce your way
and tonight was not our night."