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Collison, Hinrich win their home finale


LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas' final home game of the season was a good one for Nick Collison.

``It was,'' Collison said, ``a happy day.''

The emotional swirl at the aging Allen Fieldhouse even swept up the opposing coach. When seniors Kirk Hinrich and Collison retired to the bench with 55 seconds left Saturday, Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton trotted down the court to give each one a hug _ a classy and entirely unexpected gesture that endeared him to Kansas fans.

Collison was giving the team manager an affectionate embrace when he sensed the presence of a gray-haired older man who did not, by all rules and protocol, have any business being there.

``All of a sudden, he's right there,'' Collison said. ``It was kind of weird.''

Also kind of, well, ``happy.''

For the moment at least, the No. 7 Jayhawks' 79-61 victory over Sutton's 16th-ranked Cowboys seemed almost irrelevant.

``I just wanted to tell them that they brought a lot of class not only to the University of Kansas but to the Big 12,'' Sutton said.

He could recall only ``two or three'' other instances in his 33-year coaching career that he'd made a similar gesture.

In their Senior Day appearance, Collison and Hinrich did not let their fans or their team down.

Collison had 24 points and 16 rebounds, his 10th double-double. He also had seven blocks and would have had tied the team record at eight, if not for what coach Roy Williams said was a ``terrible'' call by officials who gave Collison a penalty on one play.

Hinrich had 19 points and a game-high five assists.

Williams was as startled as anyone when Sutton suddenly appeared.

``I started to run down the other end and shake hands with one of his guys who had fouled out,'' he said.

Instead, he simply asked Oklahoma State assistant James Dickey to thank Sutton for his gesture.

``I do think it says a heck of a lot for the respect that everybody has for Kirk and Nick around this league, and it says a great deal about Eddie Sutton,'' Williams said.

``I think he's a great coach,'' said Hinrich. ``Their teams always play hard and execute well. It's a credit to him. He's a classy guy.''

The victory leaves the Jayhawks (22-6, 12-2 Big 12) one game ahead of No. 3 Oklahoma in the Big 12. Whether Kansas successfully defends its conference championship will depend on how well the Jayhawks do in two tough road games in the final week of the regular season _ at Texas Tech on Monday and at Missouri next Sunday.

For the Cowboys (20-7, 9-5), it was the fifth loss in seven games. Their next game will be at Colorado _ their first trip there since a fatal plane crash two years ago took the lives of two players and several members of the Oklahoma State staff.
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