A Star is Born

A star is born in an ending Hollywood couldn't have scripted any better.

KU freshman guard Josh Selby, who made his career debut Saturday against USC after being suspended by the NCAA for nine contests, swished the game-winning three-pointer with 26 seconds left to propel the Jayhawks to a thrilling 70-68 victory over the Trojans.

Selby scored a game-high 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-8 from downtown. But no three-pointer was bigger than his last.

With USC leading 68-66, KU's Markieff Morris grabbed an offensive rebound off his twin brother's Marcus' missed jumper, passed it back to Marcus, who found Selby open near the right wing.

Then Selby let it fly as the 16,300 fans in the Phog watched with bated breath.

Nothing but net.

The fans came to their feet and roared as Selby pumped his fist in the air.

"I didn't hesitate to shoot the ball and it went in," Selby said.

This was a confident teenager doing what he does best.

"I've been there before and hit a lot of big shots in my career," he said.

But that was high school and AAU ball. This was big-time college basketball in his much anticipated and hyped debut in a Kansas uniform on ESPN. His shot doesn't rival Mario's Miracle in the 2008 national championship game, but it was sure something special and stretched KU's homecourt winning steak to 65 games and moved No. 3 Kansas to 10-0.

"It's nice to have a guy who wants the ball in that kind of situation, and it is nice to know that (Selby) is that kind of player," KU coach Bill Self said of the freshman's game-winner.

This game wasn't yet over after Selby's shot. After USC called timeout, KU's Tyshawn Taylor blocked Maurice Jones' layup attempt. The Trojans called a 30-second timeout, but then saw their hopes of a monumental upset dashed when junior guard Jio Fontan, who made his season debut, step on the out-of-bounds line.

Tyrel Reed was fouled, hitting one of two free throws with four ticks left as the Jayhawks escaped.

Kansas shot a season-low 38.9 percent, while USC made 45.1 percent of its shots, including 59.3 percent in the second half. The Jayhawks couldn't have won this game without Selby, who saved KU time and time again with his three-pointers.

Selby, who scored 10 of KU's first 18 points after coming in the game after the first timeout at the 15:53 mark, made three treys the second half, including a big one before his game-winner with 3:07 left, which gave KU a 65-64 lead.

"He was obviously our ‘broken floor' offense," Self said. "He shot the ball unbelievably well from behind the arc. ... It was nice to see his first three-pointer go down. He bailed us out, he saved us. He doesn't know what he is doing out there, but he still comes away with 21 points and was our best offensive player."

In addition to his 21 points, Selby posted five rebounds, one assist, and four turnovers in 27 minutes. The Morris twins scored 11 points each, while Thomas Robinson added 10 to join Selby in double figures.

The Jayhawks felt felt fortunate to win the game in what Self likened to a grind-it-out NCAA Tournament contest with an early morning start (11 a.m.). Self said KU "labored," the ball "stuck" and the team had "bad timing" offensively.

"We played like we practiced," Self said. "We haven't practiced well of late, but we did play with some energy. ... (The crowd) won the game — and Selby. The fans pulled us through because we didn't play our best."

Indeed, the Phog was rocking on Josh Selby day.

Selby was overwhelmed at the crowd, especially after his game-winner.

"It was so loud I couldn't hear myself talking," he said. "I think we have the best fans in college basketball. They never give up on us, (even when) we were down. They were cheering for us, they were getting us motivated, they were giving us energy, so they played a big part in this game."

This game didn't look early like it would come down to the last seconds. Kansas controlled the first half and pushed its biggest lead to 39-25 with 17:46 remaining in the game on a Selby three-pointer. But the Trojans competed hard and rallied behind stellar inside play from Alex Stepheson (18 points, eight rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (13 points, eight boards), plus great perimeter play from Fontan (15 points) and Donte Smith (20 points, 5-of-7 from three-point range).

The score was tied six times in the second half with eight lead changes. But KU got some key offensive rebounds late in the game by Morningstar and the Morris twins to keep its hopes alive. Then with USC up 68-66, Fontan missed a jumper and Stepheson blew a layup on the same possession to set the stage for Selby's heroics.

The fans, national media and NBA scouts came to see Selby, and they certainly will keep coming back all season.

One media member said before the game that Selby is not the Second Coming of Jayhawk legend JoJo White. But two hours later, the Baltimore native certainly might be on his way after his game-winning shot in his KU debut.

"I couldn't have scripted a better ending," Self said. "National stage, national TV, and now he is going to be the talk of the country. I'm really happy for Josh and his mother; they have made a lot of sacrifices for this day to come."

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