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Originally published January 20, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated January 20, 2009 at 09:47a.m.

Little livin’ large

Forward dedicates performance to grandma

Kansas forward Mario Little puts up a shot over Texas A&M forward Bryan Davis during the first half Monday, Jan. 19, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mario Little puts up a shot over Texas A&M forward Bryan Davis during the first half Monday, Jan. 19, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Little scores 15 in Jayhawks' victory

It looks like Mario Little made the right decision. Little, who pondered red-shirting this season, scored 15 points as KU beat Texas A&M by 20.

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2009 KU-TAMU Jan. 19

Reader poll

Who was KU's first-half MVP against Texas A&M?

  • Sherron Collins 15% 12 votes
  • Mario Little 68% 53 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 5% 4 votes
  • Tyshawn Taylor 6% 5 votes
  • Other 3% 3 votes

77 total votes.

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6Sports Preview: Kansas vs. Texas A&M

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The Jayhawks take on Texas A&M on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Reader poll

Who do you think is KU's best defender?

  • Brady Morningstar 60% 1187 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 29% 579 votes
  • Tyshawn Taylor 5% 111 votes
  • Travis Releford 2% 40 votes
  • Other 2% 42 votes

1959 total votes.

Mario Little wishes he could have attended his beloved grandmother Hazel’s 83rd birthday party Sunday at Rosemont Community Hospital on Chicago’s south side.

Kansas University’s junior forward had business to take care of in Lawrence, however — as in preparing himself for a key Big Monday basketball game against Texas A&M.;

“I’m her favorite. She’s my favorite, too,” Little said of Hazel, who has been in the hospital the past couple of weeks because of internal bleeding.

“I know she wished I could be there, but I got to talk to her, ask her how she was doing, see if she was happy. There were some things I dedicated to her tonight.”

His belated birthday gift to Hazel was a career-high 15-point outing off 6-of-6 shooting — a dandy 14-minute performance that sparked the Jayhawks to a 73-53 rout of former KU guard Mark Turgeon’s Aggies in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It made me play harder. I didn’t want to let anybody down,” said Little, who recently spent some quality time with his grandmother over a three-day Christmas break.

The good news is, Hazel should be released from the hospital soon.

“She had surgery. She’s doing pretty well, I think,” Mario Little said. “She just has to get a little stronger before they let her out, I guess.”

Mario Little’s breakout performance as a Jayhawk came in a sixth-man role.

Little, who had started the previous two games, scored nine points in an 11-2 run that stretched a healthy 20-8 lead to 31-10 with 7:23 left in the first half.

He hit his first three-pointer as a Jayhawk in that stretch.

“I just tried to be aggressive. I shot it pretty good in the warmups. I told one of the coaches I was going to make my first college three … well, my first Div. I three,” said the former Chipola (Fla.) College standout, who entered 0-for-2 from three, missing one against Tennessee and one versus Kansas State.

Little definitely made the most of his 14 minutes.

He said his aching left leg (stress fracture) still is not 100 percent, but has felt strong lately.

It’s not strong enough for him to do everything he’d like to do, however.

“I feel like I’m a slow small forward, kind of like Antoine Walker now,” said Little, who showed perfect touch on his jumper Monday. “I can’t really drive past anybody. With more reps at practice, I’ll probably get to play the 3 (small forward instead of power forward as he played Monday).”

KU coach Bill Self said he felt Little and Brady Morningstar — who played great defense against Josh Carter (seven points, 2-of-6 shooting) — probably had the best games of any Jayhawk.

“Mario was great in the minutes he played,” Self said. “He’ll get in shape where he can play more than 14 minutes.

“He has a presence on the team nobody has besides Sherron (Collins, 16 points, seven assists). He believes he belongs. He gives us a toughness and presence, elevates our manliness.”

“All along, we said he’s a tough matchup for a 4-man offensively because he can step away from the basket. He’s one of the few guys in college basketball — every team may have one, but probably not more than one — with a good in-between game. He’s really good in that 15-foot range. He has that old-school mid-range game. He needed to have something good to happen. He was active and effective.”

Little, who had scored just 11 points in five games all season, has been an inspiration to the team, sophomore Cole Aldrich (16 points, eight rebounds) said.

“He gives us a spark off the bench, the way he goes after rebounds,” Aldrich said of Little, who had four boards. “Kind of the smile on the court he has when he’s going through some tough times. He’s always smiling. I don’t know what it is. He has that great smile.”

Little was smiling in the interview room after his best game as a Jayhawk, that’s for sure.

“It’s all good with me,” Little said. “I know it’s probably better if I come off the bench now. I can give us a spark off the bench.”

Little was the feel-good story on a night the Jayhawks cruised.

KU raced to leads of 8-0 (following two Sherron Collins threes and a 12-foot Aldrich bank shot), 16-4 and 29-10 and led, 40-23, at halftime in a game never in doubt.

KU will meet Iowa State at 1 p.m. Saturday in Ames, Iowa.

Comments

jayhawker_97 11 years ago

Little, you da Big Stud!can you imagine if CS gave Little another 10 more minutes? that's like a 30-pt blown out!just be careful not to force too much on the defensive end. i think it's ok to give up 6-pt but still gain 9-pt on the other end. rebounding wise, sure Little can rack up some more. but who cares if he can still score? besides, we've got Brady!!!great performance (yeah, yeah, there are always rooms for improvement) and please please keep up the momentum going, guys!Rock Chalk!

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

I hate hearing about his leg hurting, but man did he look good last night. He could be the key to our success this season.

Matt Bowers 11 years ago

Great game. Our triple threat in Cole, Collins, and Taylor looks like it could extend to Little, M.C. Morris, and Reed. Our team is looking more complete and like they are starting to get it done in practice. Good win against a decent team.

flsku 11 years ago

The 4 best players on the floor for us last night were Cole, Sherron, Mario, & Brady. I think that they will become a steady 30+ minute foursome. The problem is, that 3 games into conference play, there is no 5th (and no true PG.) Both of the twins looked lost trying to defend (I liked the 2 treys) and TT was basically playing for the Aggies. Releford got some nice minutes, but seemed quite selfish with them. Tyrell looked bad on the no-look out-of-bounds, and he got smoked by Carter. I just don't see that 5th starter out there yet.

David Reed 11 years ago

when did we lose a whole extra year of eligibility for Cole?seriously next time double check stuff before you post it

KUPROUD 11 years ago

I like Taylor's game overall, but fouling on a three point shot twice? Aggressive, but a bad mental lapse. Still, it's hard to find fault with a consistent performance like this one. A&M looked pretty lost, but our defense had a lot to do with that. The train is on the right track and headed in the right direction. All aboard.

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years ago

This breaking news just in........Neither one of the Morris twins fouled out! Statisticians had to check the box score several times to confirm this.

KGphoto 11 years ago

Allright KUPROUD! The Blue Train is building momentum. Next stop. Ames.The rotation is rounding out. Now Taylor needs to settle in to the new look with the addition of Little's game. He needs to get comfortable with his 1st, 2nd and 3rd assist options. Then you'll have your March starting 5.

KUFan90 11 years ago

flsku - Taylor is clearly our #5. He shows the typical freshman inconsistencies and occasional mental lapses, but those will continue to become less frequent and he'll be fine.

KUFan90 11 years ago

Also, has anyone put out an APB on Appleton? When Bechard and Buford get in the game ahead of you, I think the writing is on the wall.

Nutflush21 11 years ago

Hopefully Appleton transfers. Its pretty clear he will never see any minutes here and we are already over the scholarship limit for next year. He can go D-II and play right away...

BackFat 11 years ago

“I feel like I’m a slow small forward, kind of like Antoine Walker now,”Ha

jaybate 11 years ago

Hmm, Little played well and has a sore leg, so we're still on pins and needles about whether he will deteriorate or improve healthwise.But the big news to me continues to be Brady.Brady has apparently suddenly been asked by Self to amp up the rebounding. Little Brady Morningstar, the guy everyone said just could not possibly carry his end of the bargain in D1, the guy who people began to concede was a good glue guy who could shoot occassionally, well now suddenly Brady Morningstar is Brady on Steroids, Brady Prison Body, Brady the Hulk, getting 8 reebs against KSU, supposedly a good rebounding team, and now 6 reebs against aTm--definitely a big tough and brawny rebounding team. What?!Little, scrawny, fragile, short Brady Morningstar is averaging 7 rpgs the last two outings now that Little is playing at the 4?No way! Gotta be a typo. Could never happen. He's a back-up. He can't play at this level. If he's playing at this level KU can't be any good.Bulletin: Brady can do just about whatever Coach Bill Self asks him to do except play the 4 or 5 and KU is getting good.When Self tells Brady to be glue, KU has the best glue man in the B12.When Self tells Brady to go score some threes, Brady scores in double figures.When Self tells Brady to amp up the rebounding, because we've got to go short at the 4 with Little, Brady goes from 0-1 rpgs to 7 rpgs, like throwing a freaking switch. This kid is a tremendous player.This kid is all Jayhawk.

jaybate 11 years ago

This kid is frankly doing what RR did last year. This kid is RR with a J. He's walking around and giving this team every single thing this team needs every game that its stars can't give it. And you know what? Every game there IS something that its stars can't give it.Self and Brady are like Rocky Balboa and Adrian.Yo, Adrian. You got gaps. I got gaps. Together, we get together and fill gaps. And out Brady goes filling every gap Self anticipates before hand. Self having Brady is like a building superintendant having this really really great wall board guy. "Heya, Joey, de electrician over in Tower II in Apt 1011 just kicked a hole in the dry wall trying to rewire it for the city inspector. Go fix it, will ya, Joey? Soze I can rent it to my friend's cousin Izzy." And presto, Joey patches the hole and slaps on the mud so perfectly that no one can even tell he's been there. Joey is Michaelangelo with Mud. So is Brady.Brady is raising glue guy to an art form this season.I can hardly wait for next year to see Self go, yo, Brady, Wall didn't show, like I thought he was gonna. Dis means ya gots ta play da 2 dis year. Dis means I gotta have 15 outta ya every game. Canz I counts on ya, Brady? And Brady just blinks those heavy lids of his once and da old Coach knows its as good as done. This is gonna be so fun. By next year, he's going to be a basketball assassin, a hit man, a contract trinitizer, a three point assault rifle, the dishevelled Charlie Partana of basketball players. He don't look like a hit man, the family says, but he is.

jaybate 11 years ago

And by his senior year, Don Vito Self is gonna invite him into his office before the season, and the Don is gonna be wearin' an Armani sports coat and black shirt underneath on his way to a recruiting trip, and whatever the latest rims are next season, and he's going to say, yo, Brady, you're like a son tuh me, even though a lotta people think you ain't really deserving blood family, soze ya knowz, ya done every think I ever axed ya to do since ya was just a little freshman, but now I gots ta ask you ta do the family one last favor, see? I knowz youz could carry the whole load this year and be the star, you bein' all dat good and all. But ya see, Brady, this OAD, this one and done, he chose to come here, just like Wall choze not to last year, and, well, like I hadda sign him, cuz, well, cuz, it just wouldna been right to the family if I hadda turned down such talent, ya knowz? Soze here's the deal. Ya gotta carry him kid. Ya gotta play the 2 to his 1 and makes him look good. Ya gotta play the two soze he can play the 1 and be a Numero Uno pick for da L after da season. I knowz, its a tankless job, you bein'a senior and all, Brady, buts we all gots ta do whutz best for da family, right? And Brady, this time sportin' a little goat on his chin, cuz he reckonz his last year he don't have to be da choir boy no mo, looks at da Don with doze heavy lids and he just blinks once and da Don knowz its done.And soze Brady plays da 2 to dis OAD's 1 and dere are timez when ol Brady, after coverin' dis OAD's butt on defensive lapses, walks off the court during a media time out shakin' his head and thinkin' "Do I help this OAD, or do I ice him?" This OAD see, he gets all da credits dis whole season long, but he's high strung and he make errors, even though he can go get a bucket with da best of dem. And ol' Brady, he ain't made a turnover since late in his sophmore season. "Eh, Brady," the Don sez in the 19th Hole to Gary Bedore, "What can I say? He's a pro. He don't cry about nuttin. Whatever I sez tuh do he duz...for three whole seasons. Duz ya knowz what dat meanz to uh Coach, Gary?"Gary nods, but the old Don just shakes his head and waves him off."Nobody who ain't a coach, knowz what ol'Brady Partana means to da family. Nobody."

Jordan Brown 11 years ago

He played that well on a leg that still isn't 100 percent? I'll take it!!! Dedicate more for you grandma young man!

dylans 11 years ago

jaybate lay off the crackBrady's gonna be an assassin next year huh? Just like Teahan was supposed to be in your earlier posts? Brady is one heck of a college basketball player, but today is about Little so save your Brady fetish for later.Keep it up Mario! We can't wait to see you at full strength and speed!

hawkfan74 11 years ago

Hmmm.... a few guys eating their words on Little today.

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

Maybe he's not capable of starting on championship team but if the younger players advance like we hope next year, he's definitely one who can come in and give quality minutes without us cringing as he jumps up to the scoring table.

ku98 11 years ago

What a crock of sh*t... Coach Self is being investigated for saying hello to John Wall.http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=3846492That is such BS...

Rick Arnoldy 11 years ago

Jaybate, sometimes your posts give me a headache reading them but I still look forward to them. :) Any thoughts on him being the next Mark Turgeon, i.e. a hustle player who earns his minutes by learning the game, making him a head coach candidate some day?

jasonsgill 11 years ago

Not trying to be contrary Jay, but not only is this Little's day, but this is the first sign of Little moving to the three and Brady being #6. A healthy Little > Brady. Having said that, I love how Brady is playing right now.

FairgroveJayhawk 11 years ago

Two games in a row that Kansas has built a lead and then extended it in the second half. Those young guy must be listening. Good stuff. Go Hawks.

Tony Bandle 11 years ago

Jaybate......well, two out of three posts making sense is still a good percentage.Lebowski....I am as pleased as anyone over Brady's success, but how did he do against Arizona and Michigan State: I honestly don't remember. What we all seem to forget is that although he is a redshirt sophomore, this is really his rookie season because he sure didn't play much in 2006/2007, so add that to his continued increased effectiveness and it's even more enlightening. I think the combo Tyrady Morningreed is going to be a heck of a player.Backfat....good catch, the Antoine Walker comment is hilarious!!!jasongill....whatever combo works, just keep the twins on the bench and use them at the 4-5 minute mark as shock troops...I love it!!!Nutflush21...interesting comment and a definite possibilty. The guy I want to hang in there is Q.T. I still think there is a player there.KUSTRONG.....I think it's time to start including that board banger Morningstar!!

cklarock 11 years ago

Before the game my brother asked me if I thought Turgeon would cry when he got his ovation. I said, "Don't think so, he doesn't strike me as a crier."My brother said, "Kansas will make him cry. Mario little will drop 17 points on him."I said, "If Mario Little gets 17 points, I'll cry."Mario didn't quite get there, so my eyes stayed dry, but he could have quite easily dropped 20 on A&M. He definately appears to be the real deal -- I'd heard as much from some people who got to see him scrimmage prior to his injury, but if that was an 80% Little? Whooo . . . can't wait to see 100%, and can't wait to see him at the 3.Looking forward to seeing how this team does at Hilton.

jaybate 11 years ago

jesse byron dylans, Titrate back on the crack.Morningstar arrived third game of the season. He's a thirty minute man and has been for a coon's age. Light your bowl and deal with it.Regarding Teahan, I've never seen a great shooter lose it before...EVER...first time in recorded history...an ur deal. I figured Teahan might not cut it, because of slow feet...but to blow his repeated chances given him by HCBS because he can't hit the broad side of a Silo Tech barn? No waaaaaay! I woulda bet the Campanile on it. I don't even think Bill Self can believe it. He has kept giving Teahan chance after chance after chance to make one lousy three in a game in hopes of reconnecting himself to the trinitarian sect. I mean, Bill Self has given this guy who has really stunk up the floor in about as many ways as you can stink it up chance after chance after chance. Bill has seen what Teahan can do in practice. He remembers what he did last season. Self is living in coaching purgatory about Teahan. He knows he just might have one of the greatest pure shooters in the last ten years and he can't figure out how to get Teahan untracked. He has supported him. He has given him rope. He has yanked him. He has benched him. He has ignored him. He has brought him back in to try again. He has brought him in early and he has tried mop up minutes. Nothing has worked. But great shooters are the crack cocaine of coaching. No coach can resist them. No coach can not envision a game where all that separates a team from a huge win and horrific loss are three quick treys.Conner will keep getting fewer and fewer chances, but he will keep getting them. Self can't help himself. He will have to kick Teahan off the team next year in order to stop himself from giving Teahan chances. And he won't kick Conner off. He won't. He can't. He's a shooting addict.Like you. Like me. Like everyone hooked on the game.

KGphoto 11 years ago

seriously jaybate.How many people read all of your sht?You're preaching to your own choir. I love your passion/knowledge but you abandon the masses. Nobody, and I mean nobody, reads all your crap. Get a H.S. coaching job. You are most effective when you pretend you have a gaggle of 13 year old boys fawning over your X's and O's.

LAJayhawk 11 years ago

jaybate,re: BradyI agree with some of the things you said (although, as a stylistic point, you went a little heavy on the similes and metaphors today, don't ya think?). However, I would disagree with the suggestions that "Self tells Brady..." and he does it (ie "When Self tells Brady to go score some threes, Brady scores in double figures"). Obviously, I'm not in the huddle, but I don't think Brady's particular successes in these games have come at the request of Coach Self. It seems to me that Brady has seen success because he allows the game to come to him. He is fundamentally sound, he follows the game plan, and he's generally in the correct position on the floor. So when the 3 is open, and he's shooting well, he hits it. When the ball comes off the rim in his area, he is boxing out and, thusly, gets the rebound. Etc, etc.To go off your simile/metaphor style today, Brady is like Forrest Gump with the feather. He's patient enough to let the game land at his feet, but it takes a player like Brady -- a kid with great awareness -- to actually bend over and pick it up.And, ironically, he actually kind of looks like Forrest Gump........

Lone_salina_kufan 11 years ago

I think the A and M game was the first time we really saw the team do as HCBS says, "They know where their shots are coming from" Taylor, Little, and Morningstar especially have seem to have found their niche in the offense

kvskubball 11 years ago

It's just a box of chocolates...

jaybate 11 years ago

LAJayhawk,You could be right, but you don't make a very persuasive case.How come the game doesn't come to him every game in about the same portions?If he lets the game just come to him, and his role and ensuing performance are not being administered by Bill Self, why doesn't he score in double figures and take about the same number of shots every game?If he isn't told to rebound more because a short Little is playing the 4, why don't his boarding stats stay down at the 0-1 rpg level when KU was not going short with Little?Don't get me wrong. I too think that there is a phenomenon of basketball in which players have to learn to let the game come to them. I just think that players can do both. They can let the game come to them and simultanously they can amp up certain parts of their game.You on the other hand have the burden of proving that coaches cannot direct a player to concentrate more on one activity than another.I think yours is a very tough case to make, but is by no means out of the question.

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