Kansas Basketball Nominated for 2012 ESPY

June 27, 2012


Kansas men’s basketball historic overtime victory against rival Missouri on Feb. 25, 2012, has been nominated for an ESPY, ESPN announced Wednesday.

Then-No. 4 Kansas overcame a 19-point second-half deficit to defeat No. 3 Missouri 87-86 in overtime in Allen Fieldhouse. The contest was historic in that it was the final conference battle against the Border Showdown foes in a 105-year league history as Missouri departed the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference. Additionally, the victory guaranteed Kansas at least a share of its eighth-straight Big 12 Conference regular-season title, a championship the Jayhawks would win outright two days later.

An ESPY nomination special will air on ESPN2 on Wednesday at 10 p.m. (Central). Fans can vote for the contest at http://espn.go.com/espys/voting?vote=8083110&lang=en. Other Best Game nominees are Game 6 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals and the NFL Playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints.

Kansas junior Thomas Robinson scored 18 of his 28 points after halftime, including the game-tying free throw in the final seconds of regulation, while Jayhawk junior Tyshawn Taylor nailed a pair of free throws with eight seconds to go in overtime to help lift KU to the win.

In what was built up to be one of the biggest games of the season, the teams did not disappoint. Kansas men’s basketball overcame the program’s largest second-half deficit ever of 19 points with 17 minutes to play to tie the game at 75 as regulation expired. Taylor went on to score nine of the Jayhawks’ 12 points in overtime to give KU a win that guaranteed them at least a share of their eighth-straight Big 12 Conference title.

espyvotebutton.jpgThe game was just the second overtime contest ever played between KU and Missouri in Lawrence and the first since 1920 as the win preserved Kansas’ unblemished 15-0 record at home this season and extended the Jayhawks’ win streak to 20 in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas improved its all-time advantage to 172-95 in the 105-year history versus Border Showdown rival Missouri.
After halftime, Missouri hit its first six field goals, including three three-pointers, as it stretched its 44-32 lead to as much as 19 with 17:03 to play. But midway through the final 20 minutes, Kansas would make a push that would erase its disadvantage and create one of the most thrilling victories in KU basketball history.
Following a bucket from MU’s Kim English at 10:51 to give the Tigers a 67-51 lead, MU grew cold from the field and Kansas’ defense held Missouri without a field goal for the next seven minutes.

After English’s two, Kansas junior Kevin Young energized the crowd with a huge dunk to spark a 15-4 KU run. Robinson’s put-back at 8:58 cut the Jayhawks’ deficit to single-digits, 67-58, for the first time since 13 seconds in the first half. Although KU struggled from the free throw line for much of the game, the Jayhawks went 8-for-8 at the charity stripe over the next five minutes to put Kansas within one, 71-70, with 2:30 left to play. Missouri used free throws of its own to extend its lead back to 75-72 with just over a minute to play.

With 32 seconds on the clock, MU’s Marcus Denmon, who led the Tigers with 28 points, missed a long three. On the other end of the court, KU junior Elijah Johnson drove to the hoop and dished to Robinson, who then hit the layup and was fouled on the play. Robinson completed the traditional three-point play with 16 seconds to go to knot the score, 75-75, and then came up with a huge block on the defensive end in Missouri’s final shot attempt of the game.

In overtime, the Tigers used a Denmon three–his sixth of the contest–to take their first lead in the extra period at 84-83, and 34 ticks on the clock to force KU head coach Bill Self to take a timeout. After the break, Taylor made a back-door cut to the basket where Johnson hit him with a pass and Taylor completed with a dunk.

Missouri was not done yet, though, as Denmon hit yet another basket for the one-point lead with 12 seconds to play. With no timeouts left, Taylor drove the length of the floor and went airborne for a layup attempt in the paint. As the shot landed short, MU was charged with a foul and Taylor calmly knocked down both free throws to give the Jayhawks its final margin of victory, 87-86.

In addition to Robinson’s 28 points, the player of the year candidate added a team-best 12 rebounds for his Big 12-leading 20th double-double of the season. Taylor chipped in with 24 points during the contest, while he and Robinson combined for 15-of-17 at the free throw line. Kansas senior Conner Teahan took just four shots all night but was perfect in every one, all from beyond the three-point arc, to finish with 12 points.

Young stepped up as a huge presence on the defensive end. Young collected four blocks, all in the first half, and pulled down eight rebounds for the Jayhawks.