Kansas Guards Key Last-Second Win Over UCLA

Dec. 3, 2010

Dec. 18 is a date many KU fans have circled on their calendar.

That is the day when freshman guard Josh Selby is expected to make his much-anticipated debut in the Jayhawk backcourt. The move will no doubt bolster KU’s offense.

However, the current Jayhawk backcourt proved to be formidable even without Selby Thursday night in a 77-76 win over UCLA. KU’s guard tandem scored 50 of the team’s 77 points, compared to just 21 points for their counterparts in the Bruins’ backcourt.

Senior Tyrel Reed and junior Tyshawn Taylor each had phenomenal games, while senior Mario Little drew a foul in the closing seconds and hit the game-winning free throw.

Reed carried the team in the first half with 15 of his career-high 17 points, making 3-of-4 three-point shots and all four of his free throws.

“Our guys were not hitting shots (in the first half) and fortunately, I was,” said Reed, who is averaging 10.1 points per game.

“I was trying to do different things during the game. We have great coaches here and (assistant) coach (Joe) Dooley works with us every day on improving our shots.”

Reed’s four three-point attempts game him 275 in his career to move him past Jacque Vaughn (274) for 19th on KU’s all-time list. He also matched his career high five field goals and three three-point field goals in the game.

Fellow guard Taylor took over in the second half, scoring 11 of his 17 points in crucial moments of the back-and-forth contest. The junior from Hoboken, N.J., went on a 6-0 run by himself during one stretch in the final 10 minutes and gave the Jayhawks the momentum they needed.

“Tyshawn made the two biggest offensive plays for us when we were down four in the second half,” Kansas Head Coach Bill Self said. “I thought Tyshawn played really well.”

Taylor matched his season high with 17 points, set a new season high with five steals, and matched his season best with seven field goals.

However, it was Little that added the final exclamation point to the night with a free throw with under a second remaining which provided the winning margin. With the score tied at 76, the senior grabbed a loose ball and went up for a shot at the top of the key and was fouled by UCLA’s Malcolm Lee.

His free throw gave Little nine points for the night to go along with a career-best eight rebounds.

Self said that he had no concerns about Little coming through with the game on the line.

“Mario is a confident kid,” said Self. “I felt better with him on the line in that situation than the four free throws he shot prior to that. I thought he would make the free throws, for sure.”

Thursday night in Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks’ backcourt stepped up when the team needed them most. With both Marcus and Markieff Morris in foul trouble, something had to give KU the spark it needed to get past the Bruins.

KU may have to wait another week for Selby to join the rotation, but if it can get its backcourt to play and score as it did Thursday, the Jayhawks’ winning streak will be in good hands.