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Fountain of Wayne

With Graves out, Simien picks up slack for Jayhawks

Posted: Saturday December 13, 2003 6:44PM; Updated: Saturday December 13, 2003 6:46PM
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Self meets with Graves

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Kansas coach Bill Self will meet with Jeff Graves and his family on Monday to talk about the senior center's suspension for "irresponsible behavior."

Self issued the suspension on Friday after Graves, who was averaging about four points and four rebounds, missed practice. He has been chronically late to practice and team meetings.

The suspension is not related in any way to legal difficulties.

"We'll sit down and we'll get a game plan together and if he can live by the game plan, then that's great," Self said Saturday following the fifth-ranked Jayhawks' 77-67 victory over Oregon. "If he can't, we'll move on."

Asked if Monday will be a pivotal day for the 6-foot-9 Graves, Self said, "Every day after Monday will be pivotal."

Graves has spent plenty of time in the dog house since transferring to Kansas two years ago. He was overweight and out of shape at the beginning of practice in 2002 and then-coach Roy Williams was so disgusted he refused to list him on the roster.

But he lost weight and played well last season, particularly after 6-9 Wayne Simien went out with a dislocated shoulder. In the national championship game against Syracuse, he had 16 points and 16 rebounds.

"All he's got to do is do what he's supposed to do," Self said. "It's not complicated at all. Just be where you're supposed to be and be responsible and good things will happen to you. And in turn, good things will happen to us."

Graves would be a severe loss. His heft and experience inside are sorely needed as the Jayhawks try to complement Simien.

Simien had 19 points and a career-high 14 rebounds against Oregon while 6-11 freshman David Padgett had four points and no rebounds.

"Absolutely, we can use Jeff," Self said. "His skill level and his talent level can make us better. But he's got to be committed to it. Or he won't be happy and nobody else will be happy."

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Instead of remaining a house of horror for Wayne Simien, Kemper Arena became the site of perhaps his finest game.

The 6-foot-9 junior had 19 points and a career-high 18 rebounds Saturday, leading No. 5 Kansas past Oregon 77-67 in his first game in the building where he dislocated his shoulder last season.

"I returned to the scene of the crime," said Simien, motioning toward the training table in the Kansas locker room. "Last time we were here I was laying over there on that thing in pain."

The injury, which occurred in a victory over Missouri-Kansas City on Jan. 4, caused Simien to miss 22 games.

"I felt like there was a Kemper Arena curse on me. But I guess that was broken today," said Simien, who missed the Jayhawks' last game with a pulled groin muscle.

"He was only at about 80 percent today," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "He hadn't practiced in a week."

The Jayhawks (5-1) took a 49-36 lead early in the second half on consecutive 3-pointers by freshman J.R. Giddens, who had 18 points.

Then Luke Jackson led the Ducks (3-1) on an 11-0 run that quieted the partisan Kansas crowd and sliced the lead to 49-47.

But the short-handed Jayhawks, who were without suspended 6-9 Jeff Graves, turned to their inside game to re-establish dominance.

David Padgett, a 6-11 freshman who had been held in check all game, hit two straight hook shots and Simien muscled inside for another basket.

Simien poked the ball loose underneath the Oregon basket a moment later and fed Aaron Miles, who drove the length of the court for a layup.

"We caught that sense of urgency we should have been playing with the entire game," said guard Keith Langford, who had 15 points. "Padgett did a lot of other things besides offense to help that run."

By the time Jackson halted the run with a 3-pointer, Kansas led 63-52.

With 6:56 to go, Miles canned a 3-pointer and then hit a short follow for a 68-52 lead.

"We went on a run in the second half and then we got sloppy in our halfcourt offense," said Jackson, who had 27 points and passed former teammate Luke Ridnour for ninth on the Ducks' career scoring list.

"You have to give Kansas credit. They shot the ball well. We were not as effective as we needed to be keeping them off the glass."

Ian Crosswhite and Aaron Brooks both had 12 points for the Ducks.

"Kansas did a good job using the emotion of the crowd," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said.

Miles had 16 points for the Jayhawks.

The Ducks took a 2-0 lead when Jay Anderson hit their first shot, then missed their next 10 field goal attempts. Oregon shot 22 percent the first half in falling behind 38-27.

Self suspended Graves, who had been averaging 4.0 points and almost four rebounds, for consistently missing practice and being late.

"I think that Jeff has shown flashes of really being committed and doing everything right," Self said. "But he's also had some irresponsible things happen that are just totally unacceptable."

The start of the second half was delayed 17 minutes by a power surge that caused much of the arena lighting to go out.

Oregon sophomore Matt Short, who was expected to start at center, made his season debut after being sidelined with a hairline stress fracture in the left foot. He had five rebounds and did not score.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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