KANSAS CITY (Ticker) -- As if the Kansas Jayhawks did not miss Wayne Simien enough, Ed McCants made them miss him more.
Keith Langford scored 21 points and freshman Alex Galindo added a season-high 14 as No. 2 Kansas earned a tough 73-62 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Beginning the season with seven solid wins, the Jayhawks (8-0) absorbed a mighty blow when Simien, the team's leading scorer at 17.4, had surgery on his injured left thumb Monday. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.
"It is always going to be in the back of our minds," freshman Russell Robinson said about playing without Simien. "We still need to play with confidence, even without Wayne. Wisconsin-Milwaukee hung around the whole game, but we played hard when we needed to and won the game. We missed (Simien's) dominant inside presence, but the guards were able to play well on the perimeter."
Coming into the contest with a 12.5 scoring average for the slumping Panthers, McCants had 11 points in the first half, but the Jayhawks scored 16 in the paint to take a 42-29 lead at halftime.
"(The Jayhawks) probably don't scout mid-major teams very hard," McCants said. "They saw that I averaged only 12 points, so they probably thought that I was just average."
In the second half, McCants connected on five of his six 3-pointers to keep Kansas worried. He sandwiched a pair of long-range shots around a dunk by Derrick Ford to cut Wisconsin-Milwaukee's deficit to 60-52 with 10:50 remaining. McCants added one more 3-pointer with 6:01 left to finish with a career-high 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting.
"I have seen tape and I knew he was good," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "He was better tonight than what I saw on tape. He made some tough shots and we let him get his confidence going by not guarding him. He is strong and fast and is a very good player."
The Jayhawks (8-0) really missed Simien down the stretch. They didn't have a field goal over the last 8:21, were just 8-of-22 in the second half but made 9-of-12 from the line to hold off the Panthers, who couldn't get closer than seven points.
Held without a field goal over the final 8:21 of the contest, the Jayhawks (8-0) did earn 12 trips to the free-throw line in the final 4:14, making nine to hold off a late charge by the Panthers. Overall, Kansas survived a sluggish performance in the second half, making just 8-of-22 shots (36 percent).
"We played better. I thought our kids battled and played hard," Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Bruce Pearl said. "Kansas was beatable tonight because it was their first game without Simien.
"They're a very good basketball team and they're well-coached. They survived us. It was one we could have gotten."
Robinson scored 12 points and Aaron Miles added six points and nine assists to become the Big 12's all-time leader at 800, four shy of the school record held by Jacque Vaughn. Oklahoma State's Doug Gottlieb held the previous record of 793.
Adrian Tigert scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Panthers (6-3), which dropped their third straight contest, all road games.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee hurt itself from the line, missing 8-of-11, including all three in the second half.