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Jamison plays unlikely role for upstart Kansas Southeast Regional


CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Because Alonzo Jamison did what he wasn't supposed to do, Kansas did what it wasn't supposed to do, namely beat Arkansas, and the Jayhawks are going where they weren't supposed to go, namely the Final Four.

Jamison, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, wasn't supposed to challenge the bigger, quicker Razorbacks. But he did, scoring 16 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to key Kansas' 93-81 win over Arkansas for the Southeast Regional championship here Saturday.

He wasn't supposed to shut down Arkansas swingman Todd Day, especially after Day had notched 21 points in the first half. But Jamison did that too, drawing Day for most of the second half and holding him to just five points after intermission.

And Jamison, who has hit just two three-pointers in his two-year career at Kansas (26-7), got one of those, too, to finish an 8-0 run to start the second half to get the Jayhawks back in the game.

"I'm 2-for-2 in the tournament, you know," Jamison said with a laugh. "I knew it was good when I released it. I'm only 100 behind Terry [Brown, a Kansas teammate]."

Early on, though, it didn't look as though Jamison or any of his teammates would be around to laugh, as Arkansas charged out to a 17-6 lead, held off a Kansas rally, and led 47-35 at halftime.

Kansas coach Roy Williams told his team at the half not to believe the pre-game conventional wisdom that said that Arkansas would dominate the Jayhawks through their pressure.

"I told our team it wasn't going to be 40 minutes of hell. It was going to be 80 minutes of hell, because we were going to go back at them," said Williams.

"I admit I was vocal [at halftime]. I said, 'You don't have to play over your heads. But let's make them beat us at our best.' "

And the Jayhawks gave them that, with a 58-point half. Kansas forced three ties before taking the lead for good with 9:08 left on a layup by Adonis Jordan.

Down the stretch, the Razorbacks (34-4) looked lost, as their vaunted press was ineffective and so was their shooting, just 40 percent in the second half.

"We had two troubles in the second half. One, we couldn't shoot and two, we never got the defense going. It was definitely our worst second half of the entire year," said Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson.

So it is on to Indianapolis for the Jayhawks, where Williams will meet his mentor, North Carolina coach Dean Smith, for whom Williams worked for 10 years as an assistant.

Williams calls Smith his biggest influence but won't call him by his first name. Still, he insists he won't back down from his former boss.

"If we were playing against each other on the first tee, I wouldn't try to hit the sucker into the woods," said Williams.

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