DALLAS — With less than 11 minutes left to play, senior Kevin Young walked back to the bench and took a seat with his Tigers trailing 50-45.
He was frustrated and so was walk-on Nick Berardini, who was speaking passionately to Young’s left.
“He was just saying, ‘Hold your head up high,’” Young said after the game. “I mean, you know, he was disagreeing with the call. He was saying, ‘Hold your head up high because Kalen’s going to come in and do a good job, and we need you to stay alert and stay alive.’”
This wasn’t where Young wanted to be with his Tiger career winding down. But after picking up his fourth foul midway through the second half, he could only wait for Missouri coach Melvin Watkins’ word.
“Nobody envisions your last game like that. It’s the Big 12, you’re supposed to play physical,” Young said.
The Tigers were in the middle of clawing back from an 11-point deficit when Young came out. As Missouri took a 58-57 lead on a pair of Thomas Gardner free throws with 6:42 left, Young stood with his teammates cheering as Gardner and the Tigers ran back to play defense.
Knowing that the season and his career would be over with a loss, there was reason for Young to cheer again, at least for a while longer.
It had been a frustrating game for Young, who sat for over 10 minutes in the first half after picking up his second foul with 15 minutes, 41 seconds remaining.
At the Tigers’ media session on Wednesday night, Young once again stole the spotlight with his candidness about how eager he was to play again against 6-foot-11 center Aleks Maric, who scored 16 second-half points against the Tigers on Sunday.
“I actually look forward to playing him. Write that one, I love playing him,” said Young in response to a question regarding his rematch with Maric.
As Nebraska guard Jason Dourisseau drove the lane for a dunk to give the Huskers a 70-64 lead with 24 seconds left, Young was whistled for his fifth and final foul. He had played only 21 minutes, scoring just five points with one rebound.
But instead of second-guessing his aggressiveness, Young said afterward that he would rather go out like he had, fouling out rather than playing passively.
It’s the only way he knows how to play.