Tyrel Reed pumped his fist, pounded his chest and jumped high in the air after hitting perhaps the biggest shot of his three-year Kansas University basketball career.
The Jayhawks’ junior combo guard was all fired up after accepting a pass from Sherron Collins and swishing a three-pointer to give KU a 61-60 lead with 3:55 left in Wednesday’s 71-66 home victory over gritty Cornell.
He was way more subdued in discussing the shot after the game while signing autographs outside the northwest tunnel of Allen Fieldhouse.
“I’m very excited, just trying to be calm,” Reed said. “Coach puts me out there to make a shot, so it’s kind of my job. It was fun to be out there and exciting to hit that shot.”
It also was exciting for him to prevail in the Battle of Burlington.
Cornell senior Geoff Reeves, who was a teammate of Reed’s at Burlington High, had three points and three steals in 26 minutes.
“I told him, ‘Great game’ afterward,” Reed said. “He played really well. I know he played a lot of minutes. I was proud of him.”
Reed, who also had three points, played nine minutes the second half after logging three minutes the first.
“I left him in. We needed somebody to make a shot. I thought it was the percentage play,” KU coach Bill Self said.
Close games are fun
Wednesday’s narrow victory — KU trailed by one with 48 seconds to play — had to be a bit too close for many fans’ tastes. Remember, KU had won its first nine home games by an average of 34.6 ppg.
It was not too close for sophomore Tyshawn Taylor, however.
“I love playing in games like that when it comes down to the end. This is why you come to Kansas, to play in games like this, not to blow everybody out,” Taylor said.
“We want to come here and compete. That’s what we did. Cornell played great. We were able to come back with fire. Sherron (Collins, 33 points) put us on his back. He carried us awhile. Cole (Aldrich) stepped up the second half. Everybody locked down and did what we were supposed to do.”
Taylor said he never doubted that KU would win.
“I always have faith,” he said. “I know what I’ve got around me. I know what my teammates are capable of. The way Sherron was playing, I thought nobody was going to be able to stop him.”
No-1 ranked KU’s rally prevented Cornell from claiming the biggest victory in school and Ivy League history. It also stopped in its tracks any discussion of whether it would have been the biggest upset in Allen Fieldhouse history.
So Brady Morningstar was asked, if KU had lost, would it have been Cornell’s accomplishment or KU’s failure?
“I don’t know. Maybe half and half,” Morningstar said. “Anytime we’re playing here, I don’t think we should lose to anybody just because it’s such a homecourt advantage. I’m not taking anything away from Cornell. Cornell is a great team. They came here ready to play and gave us their best shot.”
Had KU lost ... “the country would have been freaked out. The country also had us losing, so ...” Taylor said, not completing the thought.
ESPN’s Andy Katz didn’t pick Cornell, but did write a piece the day of the game indicating the Big Red definitely could make it a game.
Self was asked Thursday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference if Collins’ performance was the best he’d seen in all his years as a coach.
“It was right up there because that was a real good team,” Self said. “We didn’t have anything going. We didn’t shoot the ball well from the perimeter. We missed so many shots in tight. We just needed somebody to put us on their back. That’s what he did. He’s had some great games here. That right there was probably as good as I’ve seen in a situation where he had to be in attack mode the whole time.”
Self was asked if he’s as confident with the ball in Collins’ hands when the team needs a bucket as any player he has coached.
“He is the best, the most clutch player as far as shooting the basketball,” Self said. “Three years ago it was Mario Chalmers without question. Mario could go make plays. Sherron is a guy more so than Mario you don’t have to draw up anything for him. He can just go make a play. Combine his ability to put his head down, get to the paint, get to the free-throw line and on the flip side still be a threat off the bounce from the perimeter, I think he’s the best I’ve ever coached.”