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Kansas fends off pesky Rhode Island

Dec 31, 2006 - 7:51 AM LAWRENCE, Kansas (Ticker) -- Kansas continues to play in spurts, but that was enough to put away Rhode Island.

Julian Wright scored 23 points as the 10th-ranked Jayhawks struggled to an 80-69 victory over the Rams, extending their winning streak to six games.

Kansas (12-2) was in control throughout but never could break open the game against Rhode Island (7-7), which posted one of the most stunning wins in NCAA Tournament history when it ousted the top-seeded Jayhawks in 1998.

"We played very well, but our killer instinct still needs to improve when we have the chance to bury people," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We had some individuals that played very well for us. Julian was terrific. He did a great job of making shots and getting rebounds."

The Jayhawks appeared bent on revenge, storming to a 13-2 lead, only to see the Rams pull within 17-14. Kansas responded with a 13-0 run while holding Rhode Island scoreless for more than seven minutes to go ahead, 30-14.

Again the Rams battled back, scoring the final eight points and cutting the lead to 30-22 at halftime on Jim Baron's 3-pointer with three seconds left.

"I was really pleased going in at halftime down eight, shooting only 20 percent," Rams coach Jim Baron said. "Being in that situation I thought our kids played with tremendous tenacity and fought hard. We outrebounded them by 12 in the first half, and I thought we were in great shape going into the second half."

Rhode Island cut a 14-point deficit to 45-37 before Kansas countered with a 10-4 spurt that was capped by 3-pointers by Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush to push the advantage to 57-41 with 11:59 to go.

"If you take away their free throws, offensive rebounds and our lack our killer instinct, that was as good as we have played in a long time," Self said. "They would have scored 11 points in the first half if not for our mistakes and offensive rebounds in the first half."

Rush scored 19 points and Mario Chalmers added 12 for the Jayhawks, who shot 55 percent (17-of-31) in the second half.

"I think we came out the right way and got up and down the floor," Rush said. "We missed a couple of open shots, but other that, I felt we played pretty well. The second half we didn't defend very well. They shot 50 percent (in the second half) in our house and that is not good."

Will Daniels led the Rams with 21 points, including 15 in the second half.

    --- --- -----
    RHODE ISLAND 22 47 69
    KANSAS (10) 30 50 80 FINAL

    Dec 30 10:04 PM


    Dec 30 8:51 PM