When an opponent has the chance to end the game with free throws, a feeling of helplessness can overcome defenseless players waiting on the block.
Although he couldn’t body up on the shooter, Tigers center Kevin Young found a way to get involved by gesturing the Zou Crew to create as much noise as possible as Jayhawks center Christian Moody attempted a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds left and the game tied at 77.
Young was the first Tiger to try to pump up the crowd, and though Marshall Brown followed suit, the intensity of Young’s emotion reflected a sense of urgency that only a senior can have knowing this is his last home game against the Jayhawks.
“I was just hoping they would miss and I was trying to make him nervous,” Young said. “I was just trying to get them loud and I couldn’t believe how loud they got. I don’t remember trying any harder than that, that’s the hardest and I thank them a lot for their support.”
In addition to his cheerleading impersonation, Young was a consistent and reliable post presence for the Tigers, characteristics that have eluded Young in his first three seasons. Young finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, (six offensive) converting 6-of-7 free throws as the Jayhawks forced Young to beat them at the line.
It seems as though the Tigers’ opponents haven’t gotten the memo that the Young isn’t the career 47 percent free-throw shooter of the past. He has converted 73 percent of his free throws this season.
Young said he doesn’t dread the trips to the line anymore because improvements in his form have given him better results yielding a renewed confidence.
“I actually learned how to shoot,” Young said with a grateful laughter. “I had no consistency in my form, no rhythm to my shot. (Graduate assistant coach) Jay Spoonhour worked with me and just taught me how to get a rhythm with my shot and be
comfortable while I’m shooting.”
Although the Tigers beat Kansas and Gonzaga at home last year, Young said this is probably the best win he has ever experienced as a Tiger.
Super Mario: The pedigree of point guards at Kansas reads something like a who’s who list of college floor generals.
Names like Aaron Miles, Kirk Hinrich, and Jacque Vaughn have been the pace cars that lead a high-flying, up-tempo Jayhawk offense.
Miles graduated last year as the all-time Big 12 assists leader and Hinrich and Vaughn have been mainstays in the NBA since.
Enter Mario Chalmers, the Jayhawks’ much-ballyhooed freshman point guard, who was the goat in the aftermath of Kansas’ 61-49 loss to Arizona on Nov. 21 after committing seven turnovers against zero assists in 17 minutes.
Last night the Tigers saw the point guard that looked more like the MacDonald’s All-American player he was dubbed out of high school, as Chalmers spearheaded the offense with an adept ability to create for himself and his teammates, scoring a career-high 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting, doling out a game-high eight assists with just four turnovers.
“He’s really getting comfortable,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He was on the ball a lot tonight and made a lot of plays. We would’ve had no chance to win the game initially if Mario hadn’t played so well.”
After crumbling under pressure during the Arizona game, which was nationally televised on ESPN, Chalmers has progressed forward.
“I learned a lot from that,” Chalmers said. “You just got to be patient and wait for the game to come to you.”
Mizzou All-Century Team: The results for the Tigers’ All-Century team were revealed at halftime, and the selections show it’s good to be young.
Of the 10 players voted in by fans, six graduated with in the past eight years.
Twenty former All-Americans were automatic selections, and the 10 fan inductees were Kim Anderson, Keyon Dooling, Larry Drew, Al Eberhard, Clarence Gilbert, Byron Irvin, Arthur Johnson, Rickey Paulding, Kareem Rush, and Kelly Thames.