Who deserves to take the last shot? North edition


The clear-out is one of my favorite sequences in college basketball. It doesn’t happen too often in college, at least when being compared to the NBA.

But when it does, it’s usually in a close game with the clock winding down.

The situation is simple: The offense is going to make sure its best scorer (not necessarily its best all-around player) touches the ball. Everyone else clears out. Defense, let’s see if you can stop it.

(Aside: I’ve been known the call the occasional clear-out in Journal-World pick-up games, especially when I see guys like Dugan Arnett, Matt Tait or Jesse Newell guarding me. Because I’m simply not that good, results have been known to vary.)

I’m not a coach, but here’s who I’d want with the basketball in their hands, taking the last shot in a close game. Starting with Big 12 North teams (a separate South edition will run Friday):

Kansas (19-1, 5-0 Big 12): Sherron Collins
All Nick Krug/Journal-World Photos unless otherwise stated

Why? Easy. Collins is not only KU’s senior leader, but he has the ability to hurt the defense in a variety of ways. He can spot up for the three, where he’s shooting close to 40 percent. He can bury the mid-range jumper and he has more speed than just about anyone I’ve seen in the Big 12 this season in getting to the basket. What makes Collins even more dangerous is that if he gets fouled, he’s an 87.3 percent shooter from the charity stripe.

Collins has struggled in his last two games (3-of-10, 2-of-11), but here's guessing he heats up again soon.

The Jayhawks haven’t played in many close battles this year (they lead the country with a 23.5-point average margin of victory), but when they do (see games against Baylor, Cornell), Collins is the guy taking the big shot.

Kansas State (17-3, 4-2): Jacob Pullen
Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

Why? Just ask Baylor. Pullen can get on a roll, and it’s scary when he does. The junior struggled early in Big 12 play, but on Monday, he torched the Bears for 25 points and hit six three-pointers in K-State’s 76-74 victory in Waco, Texas.

With the game on the line, K-State coach Frank Martin put the ball in Pullen's hands at the top of the key in a clear-out. Pullen made a move like he was going toward the basket, stopped on a dime in stride and drilled a straightaway three-pointer with 1:04 remaining. Pullen later hit two free throws to seal it.

Backcourt mate Denis Clemente is another option here, but after what I saw Monday, my choice would be Pullen.

Missouri (15-5, 3-2): Kim English

Why? Because the Tigers have no better option.

The Tigers play relentless defense (first in the country with 12.1 steals per game), and they protect the basketball (second in country in turnover margin at 7.3).

However, MU doesn’t have a go-to scorer. Last year, that guy was DeMarre Carroll. This year, it seems like it could be a different guy each game. English, a sophomore, has proven to be MU’s best scorer at 14.6 ppg, so he gets the nod for now.

Iowa State (12-8, 1-4): Craig Brackins

Brackins’ 16 ppg scoring average is down from last year’s 20.2, mostly because of the increased presence of a second scoring option in junior college transfer Marquis Gilstrap (15.1 ppg). There’s little doubt, though, that if Iowa State has a chance to win, Brackins is getting the ball.

Colorado (11-9, 2-4): Cory Higgins

A case could be made here for freshman Alec Burks, who’s had more impact than most could have imagined in his first year. But I’m going with the experience of Higgins, a junior who’s fourth in the Big 12 with 18.2 ppg.

Nebraska (12-8, 0-5): Ryan Anderson

Kind of a stretch with Anderson (10.8 ppg), but who else would it be? Nebraska lacks a dominant scorer and probably won’t be calling too many clear-outs this season.


JayhawkRock 11 years, 12 months ago

With Nebraska I think if they needed a three pointer it would be Eshaunte Jones taking the shot but it is hard to tell with Nebraska since they dont really have any go to guys.

justanotherfan 11 years, 12 months ago

I think MU would go with JT Tiller, since he has hit just about every big shot for them in the last two years.

Eric Sorrentino 11 years, 12 months ago

hey guys, nice points. I think with the two teams you mentioned, it probably would be a case of whoever has the best chance to find a shot, take it. Interesting call on Jones. He does look like he can stroke the three, but I don't know about giving a freshman the call. With Nebraska, though, he could be the best option.

Believe me, I love Tiller's game, but I don't know if he's a good enough scorer to warrant the call. He hasn't scored in double figures in six games. I do like the fact that he's a senior. It's weird with Mizzou. Zaire Taylor hit the shot to beat KU last year, but he's not much of a scorer either. So with Mizzou, it could be anyone, and I'd have to think Tiller would be near the top of Mike Anderson's list.

Thanks for commenting.

waywardJay 11 years, 12 months ago

Sorrentino, you got pull.....

What was mizzou thinking not starting Kim English against us ? A freshman at Allen as his first career start ??? That's not throwing him to the wolves, that's throwing him to ashark infested waters saturated with Blood..... Need some help on that sort of logic.....

Lone_salina_kufan 11 years, 12 months ago

MU would go with Zaire Taylor. His nickname in their town is Mr. BigShot. Kinda sounds like a winner to me.

Eric Sorrentino 11 years, 12 months ago

wayward, it's an interesting question, especially since English had started the last 14 games. I think some MU fans haven't been pleased with English's shot selection of late. He's shooting a lot.

Jesse Newell, king of kenpom, relayed a stat to me. English shoots on 33.7 percent of Missouri's possessions when he's in the game, which is the 23rd highest percentage in the country. That's really high when you're talking about thousands of players.

Xavier Henry, for instance, shoots on most of KU's possessions, and he's only at 25.7 percent.

In his last three games, English was 4-of-12, 2-of-9, and 3-of-13 from the field, so maybe coach Anderson just wants to rest him a bit so he can get his touch back.

Mike1903 11 years, 12 months ago

Experience is key in all of these scenarios. Sherron Collins would definitely be my first pick for Kansas in the remaining seconds of a close ball game. Interesting insights!

waywardJay 11 years, 12 months ago

Still, logic fails....if you are going to go that route why THEN AND THERE..... did they figure the L to regroup for Columbia and go for 1-1 ???? If so, What a show of cowardice, and it would explain why their offense was basically take jump shots or throw it right to cole

chalmers2wright 11 years, 12 months ago

I'd go with Zaire Taylor too...considering he was the one that buried the jayhawks with that last second shot last year at Mizzou.

buckleyhawk 11 years, 12 months ago

Eric, you go with a 1, 2 or a 3. Honestly, dependent on the score of course, I would probably go with Aldrich/Morris for KU, Samuels/Kelly for KSt, Bryan Davis for A&M, Udoh/Aby for Baylor etc. with the low-post move instead of somebody shooting a guarded 18- to 23-footer.

Good list though (even if you pretty much mentioned only the best perimeter scorers on every team).

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