Kevin Young had a great game against Baylor on Wednesday night. Yet, he wasn’t flashy. He had no highlight reel dunks. He didn’t swat any balls into the stands. He had a great game because he played with grit.
Young’s diligent play helped lead the Tigers to a 60-53 victory against the Bears at Mizzou Arena.
Young had a career-high 11 points and was one of four players to reach double digits. He was also one rebound away from recording his first career double-double.
Young said he didn’t even notice he was so close.
“I didn’t even know what was going on,” Young said. “I was just trying to get the rebound.”
Young’s numbers were not spectacular, but Snyder said his play against Baylor (9-13, 1-10 Big 12 Conference) is a blue print of how the Tigers (12-13, 4-7) need to play for the rest of the season.
“I think Kevin’s play just kind of epitomized what our team has to be,” Snyder said. “I try to be as positive with our players as I can be, but when you look at, over the course of a season, some of the percentages and some of the things we’re doing. For us to carry ourselves like we’re a good team is not the right mind-set.”
Snyder said Young “worked his tail off” at both ends of the court and he was rewarded in the end. Young held Baylor’s Tommy Swanson, who averages 12.2 points, to seven and also kept him to two rebounds. Young said he didn’t have trouble covering Swanson but did worry about freshman Aaron Bruce, who scored 26.
Young said Baylor slowed the tempo down and made things tricky for the Tigers. For him, the game was unexciting and seemed to drag, making it hard to keep up his intensity.
“It was a long fight,” Young said. “I think they played well and it was just a long fight.”
Young continued to fight throughout the game despite the lack of excitement from the players and the crowd. He said the Tigers did a good job of working through the lessened enthusiasm.
“We have to make our own energy in games,” Young said. “We have to create that energy and Coach Snyder did a good job of getting us pumped up.”
Young made some of his most important plays at the end of the game.
As the Tigers led 53-47 with under three minutes left, Young blocked a shot by Swanson and secured Missouri’s lead. Two minutes later, he scooped up a loose ball to give possession to the Tigers and let his teammates run precious time off the clock.
Snyder said Young’s main strength was his ability to maintain his intensity during the grueling game .
“As a coach you want to give to kids things that will help them be successful and help your team be successful,” Snyder said. “For Kevin, that formula is not really complicated but it’s really important.”