2:00 PM ET, March 7, 2004
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP), victimized so many times over the years at the Hearnes Center, spoiled the final game at the 32-year-old building.Freshman reserve David Padgett scored with two seconds left and Wayne Simien had 22 points and seven rebounds in the Jayhawks' 84-82 victory over Missouri on Sunday."To beat a team like this at the buzzer, it's the best thing that's happened to me so far," Padgett said.Arthur Johnson scored a career-high 37 points and had eight rebounds for Missouri (15-12, 9-7 Big 12). But the Tigers, in need of a victory to bolster their hope of a sixth straight NCAA tournament berth, fell just short after rallying from a 10-point deficit in the final 4:54 and finished 405-72 in the Hearnes."Nobody's going to feel sorry for us," coach Quin Snyder said. "I feel bad for our seniors, and I think they feel bad for our fans that we just did not close this building's tradition out on a winning note."Kansas, which has the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament, has won five of six. The victory came on a court on which the Jayhawks were often bedeviled over the years.Kansas has swept the home-and-home series the last two seasons, but in a six-season span beginning in 1996, the Jayhawks lost at Missouri while ranked third, first, third, 19th, seventh and third. In 1997, the year the Jayhawks were No. 1 and lost in double overtime, Missouri finished 16-17.This time, they spoiled what had shaped up as a big finale for the Tigers."It seemed like we should have win it, with the setup and the way we've been playing lately," Johnson said. "It was tough."Padgett, who averages 6.7 points, found himself alone on the baseline after taking a pass from Keith Langford. He swished a 10-footer and finished with six points."Keith was supposed to take the shot, I'm sure they knew that, and I just happened to be open so he passed it to me," Padgett said. "I didn't think there was enough time left so I was just trying to get it up there and maybe get a tip or something, but things just went my way."Aaron Miles stole the ensuing inbounds pass from Jimmy McKinney just beyond midcourt and hung on to the ball until the buzzer."It was sloppy on our part," Simien said. "But it was a great game, one of the most fun games I've been a part of."Langford added 19 points and seven rebounds, Miles had 15 points and went 3-for-5 from 3-point range and J.R. Giddens had 14 and was 4-for-7 on 3-pointers.Rickey Paulding had 14 points and Jimmy McKinney and Jason Conley added 10 apiece for Missouri.Snyder isn't sure what this loss means to the Tigers' NCAA hopes, although they now likely need a strong showing in the Big 12 tournament this week in Dallas. Missouri is seeded sixth and will Texas A&M in the first round on Thursday."We've had our share of adversity," he said. "There is no answer, except to pick up the pieces and go down to Dallas and fight like hell."The arena was packed a half-hour before the start. Longtime coach Norm Stewart was surprised by a halftime announcement that his name will grace the floor of the new arena next season.But Missouri missed 12 of its first 23 attempts from the line and went 19-for-32 overall as its six-game home winning streak. At one point late in the second half, the Tigers missed five in a row from the line.Kansas (20-7, 12-4) silenced the crowd with a 9-0 run over a span of 1:32 for a 77-67 lead before Johnson helped set up the tight finish with eight points, including 6-for-6 from the line."I was worried big time because we didn't have any answers for them defensively, and then we had some bad possessions," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "So certainly, I was worried. I was very nervous."Consecutive baskets by Conley, the last a dunk off a steal on an inbounds pass, put Missouri ahead 80-79 with 49 seconds to go. Miles responded with a 3-pointer for Kansas with 20 seconds left and Conley made two free throws to tie it at 82 with 15.4 seconds to go.
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