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Updated: Sunday, March 7, 2004 6:39 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(18) Kansas 84, Missouri 82

COLUMBIA, Missouri (Ticker) -- Arthur Johnson poured his heart out in Missouri's last game at the Hearnes Center, but Kansas still broke it.

Keith Langford fed freshman David Padgett for the game-winning basket with two seconds left as the 18th-ranked Jayhawks overcame Johnson's strong effort for a pulsating 84-82 Big 12 Conference victory.

Johnson poured in a career-high 37 points in the final game at the Hearnes Center, the home for Missouri (15-12, 9-7 Big 12) since 1972. The Tigers, who are moving to a new facility next season, used a 15-5 run to forge an 82-82 tie on Jason Conley's two free throws with 15 seconds to go.

Kansas (20-7, 12-4) set up for a final shot and Langford drove towards the right side of the lane before he was cut off by an extra defender. Langford found an open Padgett in from of him, and the Jayhawks center nailed a short turnaround shot.

"The ball was supposed to go to Keith, and I'm sure they knew that," Padgett said. "I just happen to be open and he made a good pass to me. I didn't think there was enough time left to pass it to somebody else; I was just trying to get it up there to maybe get a tip in or something. Things just went my way."

The Tigers had one last chance, but their final inbounds pass was picked off by Aaron Miles.

"We didn't come here to spoil the party; we came here to enhance our chances and a shot at getting a tie for second place in the league," said Kansas coach Bill Self, who improved to 5-0 vs. Missouri.

Missouri finished sixth in the Big 12 for the fourth time in five seasons under coach Quin Snyder and may have re-opened the doors at the Hearnes Center with the loss. The Tigers may wind up in the National Invitation Tournament, where they could host more games.

"This is as difficult of a loss as I've ever been associated with," Snyder said. "There were so many things about this game that made me think we have to win. The urgency of the situation is not lost on a team by any means."

Johnson, a behemoth 6-9 center who has disappointed at times, was unstoppable. He made 13-of-17 shots and 11-of-17 from the line to go with eight rebounds.

"I had it going early, and I knew they couldn't check me so I just wanted to keep it going. I knew doing that, that the guys would feed of that and hopefully it would get them going."

While Kansas could not stop Johnson, it turned in a strong offensive performance to offset him by shooting 57 percent (32-of-56). Freshman J.R. Giddens nailed four 3-pointers as the Jayhawks - the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big 12 - made 10-of-18.

Giddens nailed a 3-pointer to trigger nine straight points that opened up a 77-67 lead with just under five minutes left. But Missouri fought back thanks to Conley, whose steal and layup made provided the Tigers with an 80-79 edge with 49 seconds left.

Miles answered with a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining before Conley was fouled and drained a pair at the line for the game's final tie.

Wayne Simien scored 22 points and Langford added 19 for Kansas, which will likely face Missouri again in next week's Big 12 tournament. The Tigers meet Texas A&M, which went 0-16 in Big 12 play, with the winner facing the Jayhawks.

The loss was a fitting end for Missouri, which is under investigation by the NCAA for violations alleged by former guard Ricky Clemons. Also, Snyder kicked off guard Randy Pulley and lost promising freshman Linas Kleiza to a shoulder injury.

"Throughout this year, things haven't gone the way they were supposed to go," Snyder said. "It hasn't been storybook."


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