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Updated: Saturday, January 3, 2004 12:31 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(13) Kansas 86, Villanova 79

LAWRENCE, Kansas (Ticker) -- Keith Langford scored 24 points and Wayne Simien added 23 as No. 13 Kansas posted a hard-fought 86-79 triumph over Villanova.

Looking for a solid tuneup before Big 12 Conference play begins Monday, Kansas (8-2) nearly got more than it bargained for. The game was tied at the half and Villanova was within 78-73 with 91 seconds to go before the Jayhawks made their free throws down the stretch.

Freshman David Padgett added 15 points and Aaron Miles 10 for Kansas, which plays at Colorado on Monday. The Jayhawks ran their home winning streak to 11 games and have 51 straight wins against unranked opponents at Allen Fieldhouse.

"I feel good, I like our team," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "I have always liked our team but I like the way we played. I thought we were in attack mode for the majority of the game."

Allan Ray had 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Villanova (8-3), which had a five-game winning streak snapped.

"We made some great plays tonight and we never let Kansas put us away," Ray said. "We really stuck together as a team tonight."

Villanova actually held a 41-35 edge on the boards but Kansas' starting frontcourt combined for 45 points and five blocks. The Wildcats got just 29 points and no blocks from its starting three up front.

"I think we showed we are a good team with a weak inside game," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We are not a great team. Our inside people are young with young bodies. Kansas' big men have mature bodies that are bigger and more physically developed."

"We did a better job tonight," said Padgett, the Jayhawks' center. "The guards did a tremendous job of looking in and not trying to hurry too much to get it inside. That made a difference."

Langford, who has scored at least 10 points in 24 straight games, was 14-of-18 from the free-throw line.

Villanova scored six of the first eight points in the game but Kansas led by as many as 10 points in the opening half. The Wildcats closed the half with an 8-0 run to forge a 38-38 deadlock heading into the break.

The Jayhawks opened the second half with a 21-10 run to seize control and were ahead 74-62 with 4:38 left. Villanova continued to chip away but Miles hit four free throws and Langford two more over the final 51 seconds.


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