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Updated: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 1:10 AM EST
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(2) Kansas 81, Holy Cross 57
Holy Cross Crusaders
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Kansas Jayhawks
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LAWRENCE, Kansas (Ticker) -- The first 11 minutes brought back some bad memories for Kansas before Nick Collison got going.

Collison scored 20 points as the second-ranked Jayhawks shook off a sluggish start and posted an 81-57 victory over Holy Cross in the first round of the Preseason NIT.

Kansas (1-0) and Holy Cross met in a first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament last season and the 16th-seeded Crusaders held a 37-35 halftime lead. They were still within 60-57 with just over four minutes left before the Jayhawks pulled away for a 70-59 triumph and eventually went on to the Final Four.

"They're a hard team to play," Kansas coach Roy Williams said. "They are patient and they are good ballhandlers. Their players know their limitations, they stay away from trouble spots."

This time, Holy Cross (0-1) stayed in the game in the early moments and took its final lead at 17-15 on a basket by Patrick Whearty with just under nine minutes to go in the first half. Collison was held scoreless to that point.

Collison got on the board with a dunk and had six straight points in a 12-0 run that was capped by a 3-pointer by Kirk Hinrich and opened a 27-17 advantage with 4:47 left. Brian Wilson responded with a 3-pointer for the Crusaders, but the Jayhawks closed the half with a 12-1 surge for a 39-21 advantage.

"Last year's game was a wake-up call," Hinrich said. "We were anxious to get out there. The last 31 practices get a little repetitive."

"Kansas does a good job of taking you out of their game," Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard said. "Up to the 11-minute mark, we were able to do what we wanted, but after that, they took over."

The Crusaders cut the deficit to 44-34 on a 3-pointer by Tim Szatko with 16:35 remaining. Keith Langford had a layup, Collison made two baskets and Wayne Simien converted a three-point play to restore the lead to 53-34.

Langford scored 15 points and Collison and Simien each netted 13 for Kansas. Simien, who is replacing the departed Drew Gooden, matched a career high with 11 rebounds in his first start as the Jayhawks held a 42-30 edge on the glass.

"With Nick and Wayne, we have two guys who can score and put the ball in the basket and shoot a really high percentage," said Williams, who is 13-0 in the Preseason NIT. "You know they did a good job of really emphasizing Kirk on the defensive end of the floor and made it more difficult for him."

The Jayhawks held a 38-14 advantage in points in the paint and scored 28 points off 20 turnovers. Langford made his first four shots and made 7-of-8 on the night as Kansas shot 53 percent (28-of-53).

Kansas won its 30th straight home opener and will host North Carolina-Greensboro in the second round Friday.

Szatko scored 14 points and Wilson added 12 points - all on 3-pointers - for Holy Cross, the defending Patriot League champions. Whearty and Jave Meade fouled out with a total of seven points for the Crusaders, who felt they were rattled by playing in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time.

"This is definitely different from when we played them in St. Louis," Szatko said. "This crowd is crazy. It's the loudest I've ever heard."

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