Dec. 2, 2010
LAWRENCE, Kan. - After almost 40 minutes of bruising, banging, shouting and shooting, everything came down to a little bump and one soft toss.
The bump was by UCLA guard Malcolm Lee, the toss was by Kansas' Mario Little. His first free throw with seven-tenths of a second remaining dropped and lifted No. 4 Kansas to a pulsating 77-76 victory over UCLA on Thursday night.
Tyler Honeycutt, capping a 31-point game, hit a 3-pointer with 5 seconds to go that tied the score between two of basketball's most storied programs at 76-76. Then Lee fouled Little as he got set to try to avoid overtime. After conferring at the scorer's table, officials said to put .7 seconds back on the clock and Little walked to the line as a roaring crowd of 16,300 implored him to keep the Jayhawks' home court winning streak alive.
"I think he just bumped me," said Little, who was in coach Bill Self's doghouse earlier for taking some poor shots. "When I first knew I was fouled and they called it, free throws is what I do. I just stepped up and knocked it down. I knew I had two chances. Sink the first one and then let them deal with it."
After making the first foul shot, Little missed the second. The Bruins (3-3) rebounded and Honeycutt made a desperation hurl across the court, missing for one of the few times all game, and Kansas (7-0) saw its school-record homecourt winning streak reach 64.
"We did not play very well," Self said. "The crowd won this game for us. On a neutral floor, we lose this game."
Lee said he was disbelieving that the foul was called as he and Little struggled for a loose ball and Little struggled to put up a shot.
"I barely heard a whistle, but I looked at the ref and he signaled a foul and I was just shocked," Lee said. "When you just lose a game off of a tacky foul and then free throws at the end, that's kind of hard. You might as well lose by 30, because that's just crazy. But credit them, because I guess they played a better game."
Honeycutt was 11 for 15 from the field and 5 for 6 from 3-point range.
"He was clearly the best player out there tonight," Self said.
UCLA coach Ben Howland agreed.
"Honeycutt really had a great game tonight, really let the game come to him," he said.
Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed both had 17 points for Kansas.
Joshua Smith, the 305-pound center for the Bruins, made life miserable for the Jayhawks inside and had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
"He dominated our bigs," Self said.
Howland said the big center just showed what he's capable of.
"This was Josh's first of what will be many, I think, double-doubles in his career," he said. "It was good to see him play so well tonight. Obviously, we're disappointed. We thought we had a chance to win, especially when we hit a shot there to tie it up. It's just disappointing to see a game against two good teams finish on that kind of note."
Smith's basket pulled the Bruins to 75-73 with 37 seconds to go, then Taylor, with 29.2 seconds left, missed his first free throw but made the second and Kansas led 76-73.
With 19.6 seconds left, and the crowd on its feet, Kansas' Marcus Morris missed the front end of a 1-and-1. The ball got tied up with the possession arrow pointing Kansas' way and the Jayhawks inbounded with 18 seconds left.
Reed, Kansas' best free throw shooter, got the ball, but coughed it up in heavy traffic and Honeycutt canned his fifth 3-pointer for the tie.
Kansas was only 16 of 30 from the free throw line and got outrebounded - something that rarely happens in Allen Fieldhouse - 37-32.
All night long, it was a game of spurts before Kansas finally took a 70-66 lead on Marcus Morris' basket.
With 3:43 left, Marcus Morris was fouled by Lee and made one of two free throws, making the Jayhawks 1 for their last 4 from the line, but giving them a 71-66 lead.
A moment later, UCLA's Jerime Anderson threw the ball out of bounds and the Bruins called time out with 3:14 left.
At the 2:34 mark, Honeycutt scored inside, was fouled by Markieff Morris and made the free throw, slicing the lead to 73-69.
A few seconds later, Brendan Lane's fifth foul sent Marcus Morris back to the line, where he made both, giving the Jayhawks a 75-69 lead.
Marcus Morris had 16 points for Kansas and his brother Markieff had nine points and nine rebounds.