Little’s free throw helps KU escape

Kansas forward Mario Little and the Jayhawks' bench look for a foul after a last-second attempt by Little for a shot against UCLA during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. A foul was called on UCLA guard Malcolm Lee sending Little to the line in which he hit the game-winning free throw to grab a 77-76 win.

Kansas forward Mario Little and the Jayhawks' bench look for a foul after a last-second attempt by Little for a shot against UCLA during the second half, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. A foul was called on UCLA guard Malcolm Lee sending Little to the line in which he hit the game-winning free throw to grab a 77-76 win.

December 3, 2010


Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following KU's 77-76 victory over UCLA on Dec. 2, 2010.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

UCLA coach Ben Howland questions last-second call against his team

UCLA coach Ben Howland questions the last-second call against his team following KU's 77-76 victory over UCLA on Dec. 2, 2010.


UCLA head basketball coach Ben Howland discussed the Bruins' 77-76 loss to Kansas Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010 at Allen Fieldhouse. Howland said a foul called at the end of the game was a "really really poor way to end a game on a call."

Mario Little wasn’t shaking as he stepped to the foul stripe with a chance to win Thursday’s thriller against UCLA.

He was as calm as a fifth-year college senior could be.

“I knew I had two chances, so I wasn’t trippin’,” Little, Kansas University’s 6-foot-6 small forward from Chicago, said after his free throw with seventh-tenths of a second left busted a 76-all tie and propelled the Jayhawks a 77-76 victory — KU’s 64th straight win in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Sink the first one and let them deal with it,” he added with a smile.

He was told by coach Bill Self to miss the second of two tries.

Obliging, he bricked the second, the ball caroming to the Bruins, who had no time to set up a play to steal a key nonconference victory.

“I mean, it’s big free throws, but it’s what I do,” Little said. “I mean, my team needed me. I had to step up. I’m not a hero or anything like that. This is something I’m supposed to do.”

Yet the winning free throw — he was awarded two foul shots after getting “bumped” by Malcolm Lee while horsing up a shot just before the final buzzer — did feel perfect when it left his hand.

“I was on my tippy-toes and followed through. I mean, if you are a good shooter, you know when you are gonna make the shot,” Little said.

Being a fifth-year senior — he red-shirted last year — Little knew the situation called for a free-throw miss on the second try, with KU safely up one point.

“I already figured coach wanted me to miss it,” Little said, “but I looked over and asked coach Self, and he told me to go ahead and miss it. It’s not easy to do. I tried to throw something up there.”

Of course, just as big as Little’s free throw was his getting fouled in the first place.

Tyler Honeycutt, who exploded for 33 points — most against KU since Michael Beasley’s 39 on March 1, 2008 — stole the ball in the KU backcourt and drilled a three at :05, tying the score at 76.

KU rushed the ball upcourt, with Little ending up in the right spot at the right time.

“I saw Marcus pushing it,” Little said of Marcus Morris (16 points, six rebounds). “I was going to try to get a cleanup bucket or do something. He lost it. I saw it, tried to grab it and throw it up. The dude bumped into me a little bit, and I just threw it up. He (ref) called it.

“I think he did foul me. It was nothing crazy, but a little bit,” he added of the bump by Lee.

UCLA coach Ben Howland said it was a “disappointing” way for the game to end, especially after such a key three by Honeycutt.

But the game did end that way, providing Tyrel Reed with a sigh of relief. He was caught in the backcourt and committed the late turnover, though many fans thought Reed was fouled on his miscue.

“I should have called a timeout or threw it in our backcourt. I’m fortunate Mario hit the free throw at the end. It was a dumb play on my part,” Reed said.

Of course, KU would not have been in position to win had Reed not exploded for 15 points the first half and finished with a career-high 17.

“It was probably the only smart thing we did tonight,” KU coach Bill Self said of the final possession after Honeycutt’s trey. “Get the ball in quick and take it down the court. It’s what we talk about all the time. Don’t look for the timeout, get it in quick and put pressure on them.

“They outplayed us. It’s evident we were fortunate. Mario said he did get fouled at the end. Of course, if we made free throws (KU hit 16 of 30 to UCLA’s 14 of 22), it wouldn’t have come down to the last possession.”

Tyshawn Taylor was terrific with eight points in a key 13-2 run that turned a 64-60 deficit into a 73-66 lead at 2:52. Taylor finished with 17 points off 7-of-10 shooting.

“I think neither team played their best game,” Taylor said, “but it was one of those games two teams were going at it. Neither team played their best defensively, but that happens sometimes in games like this.

“We are a deep team, and we have guys that can do a lot of different things,” Taylor added of himself and Reed and others stepping up on a night the Morris twins had foul problems. “We showed that a little tonight, but we have to do more of that in upcoming games.”

Self will take the W.

“The crowd was great,” he said. “They won the game for us.”

KU will next meet Memphis in the Jimmy V. Classic at 6 p.m. Tuesday in New York.


papillon 4 years, 10 months ago

Anyone going to comment on the sad total of missed free throws by KU? It was dismal...

rgh 4 years, 10 months ago

It turned a sure win into a somewhat lucky win. Thank goodness we have another Super Mario.

Armen Kurdian 4 years, 10 months ago

I honestly thought Mario was out of control when he took that pass. I'm glad we won, but in fairness to UCLA (can't believe I'm saying that), it looked like a cheap foul to me. We were EXTREMELY lucky to win that game.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 10 months ago

That foul was BS. KU's luck might run out against #15 Memphis away from the friendly confines of AFH.

rgh 4 years, 10 months ago

It really wasn't a pass. Marcus thought he got fouled as be dribbled to the top of the key, but I thought it was a clean strip and became a loose ball. I thought Mario clearly had it and the kid accidentally got him with the body, but a foul is a foul like Coach Fran said at the time. Regardless, Ricky_Vaughn we let our game talk and thus the Big XII titles and NCAA titles. Where's yours?

jonas_opines 4 years, 10 months ago

Definitely a lame way to finish an exciting game, and we're not going to make it very far tournament time unless we get better at the line. It does seem, though, that the team gets better at the line as the year goes along. No data to back that up, though, so it might just be my imagination.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 10 months ago

KU looks a little small in the front court to me. Joshua Davis owned them in the paint last night. These types of bigs will cause matchup problems for KU all year long. It's something they'll have to try and make up with their team speed/athleticism. The Morris twins are great, but they can't handle that kind of beef!

Hopefully Selby's presence will give them a solid point guard as well. FT shooting must get better as well if they want to win games in March.

Don't get me wrong...KU is still very deep and talented, a great team. I just think that these are the areas they're weakest.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 10 months ago

KU's frontline is certainly a bit undersized, but if they get help from the guards, they'll be just fine.

In the second half, they were much more effective on offense once the guards began getting the entry passes high enough to get over the defenders. And on defense, the guards/small forwards need to help out once the ball goes inside-- something that Self's teams typically do well.

BTW, Little was clearly fouled on that play, although it was just before the shot(it was a two-shot foul, regardless.) Sure, it's a foul that often doesn't get called, but it was a foul, nonetheless.

Judgesmails 4 years, 10 months ago

KU got bailed out by that weak call.

Terrrible way to end that game.

puddleglum 4 years, 10 months ago

UCLA was getting bailed out by the refs the entire game.

I just loved when the announcers for espn gushed over UCLA's offense: 'beautiful screens" time after time-they were setting MOVING SCREENS-(a foul we get called for all the time) yet not one moving screen was ever called. their 3-man was constantly moving into brady all night long and it was never called.

so yeah, a fitting end to a fitting game

Ku 's free throws need attention

and the streak LIVES ON!!!!

Don Whiteley 4 years, 10 months ago

For 60 years, UCLA has been getting calls going their way...just because they were UCLA. One call goes against them and they go off and pout like some spoiled, little rich kid. Message to Californians: time to grow up and be a big boy now.

independant1 4 years, 10 months ago

That 305lb Jones took up a lot of space.

When bodying up on opponents he got into foul trouble too.

What I found laughable was the ESPN announcer's lame, "they're calling fouls on him just because he's big."

The game went UCLA way when the visitors decided no baskets on the block and played the even foul distribution strategy. It seemed like a foul fest. UCLA 25 KU 18

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