Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Deja vu at Mizzou: Moody’s missed free throws cost KU in 89-86 OT loss to MU


— Mark Moody gave his son, Christian, a heartfelt hug in a Mizzou Arena hallway Monday night.

"We're going to spend some time together tonight," the dad said after watching his son head dejectedly toward Kansas University's team bus after a hard-to-believe, 89-86 overtime loss to rival Missouri.

"He's disappointed. Very disappointed. He's obviously down. It's a tough situation, but I'm so proud of him. He'll be back," added Mark, a doctor from Asheville, N.C., wishing he could cure Christian's blue mood immediately.

Moody was mighty disappointed after contributing mightily to KU's late-game meltdown against the Tigers - in which the Jayhawks blew a nine-point lead in the last 1:51, a seven-point lead in the final :39 and a five-point lead in the last :29.

The senior forward had a chance to win it in regulation, going to the line for two free throws after getting hacked on a layup try with 0.4 seconds left on the clock, the game tied at 77.

Moody missed both free-throw tries - both were too hard - and it was off to overtime where MU prevailed, thanks to a mighty effort from Thomas Gardner, who hit a three with five seconds left in regulation to tie the game.

"I was pretty nervous, a little bit I guess," said Moody, who felt a surge of confidence when he said coach Bill Self told him, "Put them in. I want you on the free-throw line. I want you out there."

"I was focused on the rim," Moody added, noting he had one thought after missing the first charity, the crowd going crazy.

"Make the second one," he said. "I wasn't that shaky at all. I thought the shot was going in."

It didn't, and it was off to OT.

"He's never been that good a free-throw shooter," Self said of Moody, who fouled out with 2:32 left in OT, "but he's made some tough free throws for us. I'd put him out there again. He's a tough kid. He'll hurt a long time but will bounce back. His teammates will help him. I'm confident of that."

Despite the shocking ending to regulation, the Jayhawks played the Tigers tough in OT.

KU, in fact, had weathered a 40-point outing by Gardner and had a chance to tie or win on its final possession of OT. Down 88-86, Brandon Rush - who had 14 points in 37 minutes playing against his brother Kareem's alma mater - drove the lane, but made an ill-advised bullet pass to Darnell Jackson, who was guarded by Jimmy McKinney and Kevin Young.

Jackson fumbled the ball and fouled McKinney, who made one of two free throws with two ticks left. Russell Robinson's deep heave past halfcourt had no chance, and KU fell to 10-6 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference, compared to Mizzou's 10-5, 3-1 mark.

"I was not expecting the ball," Jackson said. "I expected Brandon to take the shot. McKinney was in front of me, strong help. There was no way for me to get the ball."

Rush, who hit just five of 13 shots, admitted he should have shot the ball.

"They wanted me to have the ball," Rush said of his teammates. "I passed the ball. I should have took a shot like it was drawn up. I thought Kevin Young had picked me up and D.J. could slip to the rim.

"This is real tough. With a minute-and-a-half left, we had the game sealed."

Self said the play was designed first as a ball screen for Chalmers, who scored a career-high 22 points with a career-best eight assists.

But when Rush had the ball, "You've got to drive it to score. He chose to pass," Self said. "That didn't cost us. What cost us is at the end of regulation we didn't execute."

How KU lost the lead is something for historians to ponder in perhaps the most shocking comeback in Border Showdown (War) history.

"You can't lose when you are up seven with a minute-and-a-half left," Self said. "It's one thing to lose. It's another to lose in the fashion we did. We helped them come back to win."

Rush, Moody and Chalmers each made just one of two charities when fouled in the final two minutes to go with Moody's two misses and two makes by Robinson with 14 ticks left that would have been enough to win had Gardner not tossed in a three with Robinson on him.

"Gardner was fabulous," Self said of the player who also hit a three with :30 left in regulation to make it 74-70. "It's about as good a performance as I've seen."

As far as the Jayhawks, they did look mighty good during a Chalmers-led 19-4 run that gave KU its late nine-point lead. But that run was forgotten after the late meltdown.

"Probably not the worst," Moody reflected, asked if it's the worst he's felt in basketball. "This isn't the end of the year. We have a chance to come back strong."

KU next will meet Nebraska at 3 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.


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