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Updated: Wednesday, November 26, 2003 1:33 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(5) Kansas 81, (4) Michigan St 74

LAWRENCE, Kansas (Ticker) -- Two strong halves by Kansas forward Wayne Simien were better than one by Michigan State's Paul Davis.

Simien scored a career-high 28 points and Aaron Miles chipped in 17 as the fifth-ranked Jayhawks held off a late rally for an 81-74 victory over the fourth-ranked Spartans.

This game pitted a pair of top-notch post players in Simien and Davis. Simien was up to the task with 14 points in each half, but Davis managed two at halftime and finished with 13.

"He is terrific," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "Dub (Simien) tonight was as good as any big man in America. He made some plays that were just tremendous and I am really proud of him."

The Jayhawks (2-0) never trailed after the opening minute, leading by as many as 17 points in the second half. Simien made 9-of-12 shots and gave Kansas a 61-44 lead with 12 1/2 minutes remaining.

"We were all over the place tonight," Simien said. "We had three or four guys diving after loose balls. You need to play tough, especially when you play a Big Ten team like Michigan State."

Michigan State (1-1) received some hot 3-point shooting in the second half from Maurice Ager, who scored 17 points, and surged back into the game. Davis' inside hoop cut the deficit to 76-72 with 2:22 to go.

Kansas freshman J.R. Giddens responded with a follow slam and Davis and Ager missed shots on Michigan State's next two possessions. Giddens netted eight points off the bench.

"We battled back a bunch of times and then made some foolish plays," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "When we cut it to four and then gave up that offensive board late, that was more or less the game."

Self improved to 4-3 lifetime against Izzo as the coaches renewed their rivalry from Self's Big Ten days at Illinois.

"I think we have a good team. I think they have a really good team, too," Self said. "I told Tom that afterwards and he agreed."

Davis finished just 3-of-11 from the floor with four turnovers.

"In the first half, they just doubled a lot," Davis said. "I was trying to go strong and quick, but they were playing unbelievable defense. Their big men are probably the best in the country."

Kansas guard Keith Langford scored 13 points, including seven in a three-minute span late in the game when Michigan State was making its run. Miles added six assists.

Michigan State received a sub-par effort from shooting guard Chris Hill, who netted nine points in 25 foul-plagued minutes and made just one 3-pointer. Hill is third on the school's all-time list with 164 3-pointers.

The game was one of numerous tough contests on Michigan State's non-conference slate. The Spartans also have matchups with Duke, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Syracuse on tap.


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