LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- It took Kansas more than a half to realize
it could beat a good team without Wayne Simien.
Keith Langford's twisting shot in the lane with 3 seconds left
in overtime lifted short-handed No. 2 Kansas past No. 9 Georgia
Tech 70-68 Saturday, capping the Jayhawks' rally from a 16-point
"It's almost a naked feeling not having (Simien) out there in a
big game like that, especially with this team really needing him,"
Langford said. "But something happened. Guys just stepped up. We
just stepped up to the challenge."
Simien, Kansas' leading scorer and rebounder, is out for at
least a month with a thumb injury. The Jayhawks were playing for
the second time without their star, and Georgia Tech was their
first ranked opponent since he went out.
At the outset, the Jayhawks (9-0) seemed to be entirely out of
"Wayne Simien is an All-American. And that's hard to replace,"
said point guard Aaron Miles, who became Kansas' career assists
leader in the win. "But we can do it collectively, and that's the
thing we did. People just stepped up and made plays."
It was a physical, fast-paced rematch of a regional final in the
2004 NCAA tournament -- the Yellow Jackets won that one in overtime
en route to the national championship game. Georgia Tech (9-2) was
also missing a key player after guard B.J. Elder, its leading
scorer, went out in the first half with a strained hamstring. Coach
Paul Hewitt said he was not sure how long Elder would be gone.
"It was a very hard-fought game," Hewitt said. "They made
more plays offensively down the stretch than we did. It is awfully
disappointing to give out that type of effort and not come away
with the win."
Kansas did not take its first lead until the extra period.
Langford had a hand in that, too, stealing the ball to set up Alex
Galindo's basket that gave the hosts a 66-65 edge with 1:38 left in
Then, with the capacity crowd at Allen Fieldhouse screaming,
Langford put a spin move on defender Mario West and launched the
Langford, who had only two points at halftime, led the Jayhawks
with 18, while J.R. Giddens had 16 and Miles finished with 14 in
his 116th straight start at point guard.
Miles had eight assists, giving him 808 for his career and
breaking the school record of 804, set by Jacque Vaughn in 1993-97.
Jarrett Jack, who led Georgia Tech with 26 points, spoke
hurriedly with Langford just before the game.
"Keith walked by me and said, 'This is going to be a game on
ESPN Classic for a long time,' " Jack said. "They are probably the
grittiest team we have ever played. Their coach kept their heads in
During the lopsided first half, Kansas coach Bill Self didn't
feel he was doing anything right.
"The assistant coaches kept saying we would be OK, but I was
thinking that we were going to get run out of our own gym," Self
Georgia Tech, which beat Kansas 79-71 in the NCAA regional
finals but lost to Connecticut in the title game, went up quickly
in overtime on Anthony Morrow's basket. With 2:42 left, Isma'il
Muhammad hit a 5-footer in the lane for a 65-61 lead.
Galindo, who helped lead Kansas' second-half comeback, answered
with a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 65-64.
A moment later, Langford's bucket made it 68-67, then Muhammad's
free throw with 27 seconds to play tied it at 68.
"It was a great game on New Year's Day in overtime," said
Georgia Tech's Will Bynum.
After trimming the deficit to seven points at halftime, Kansas
got it down to one point three times. But Luke Schenscher answered
with two free throws the first time and Jack came down and scored
twice to keep Kansas at bay.
Finally, with 1:15 left in regulation, Langford bounced in a
3-pointer that knotted it at 61-all.
The Jayhawks hit only five of their first 19 shots and trailed
31-15 when Miles missed a layup and Muhammad drove in for a
But then Miles and Giddens hit consecutive 3-pointers, and the
Jayhawks shaved the lead to 34-27 when Miles went to the line with
2 seconds left in the half. That was the first free throw for any
"The game came down to the toughest team winning," Galindo
ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi and his team of bracketologists examine the 2018 NCAA tournament outlook for the Virginia Cavaliers.
ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi and his team of bracketologists examine the 2018 NCAA tournament outlook for the New Mexico State Aggies.
ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi and his team of bracketologists examine the 2018 NCAA tournament outlook for the Davidson Wildcats.