Down 68-64 with under six minutes left in the game, Sherron Collins conspired with fellow freshman Darrell Arthur combined to score 14 of Kansas’ last 16 points. Arthur scored seven points in that stretch on short jumpers and lay-ups, thanks to some great interior feeds from teammate Julian Wright. Arthur finished the night with nine points, four rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes after a sluggish start.
It was Collins, however, who brought the roof down with a combination of penetrating drives to the basket and well-timed long range shooting to rack up seven late points of his own, including an off-balance lay-in to put KU up by three with just 32 seconds left. Collins finished the night 8-of-14, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc. He also added five rebounds.
Two late three-point attempts for MU came up short, thanks to very good perimeter defense, and Kansas moved to 3-0 in the Big XII.
“Tonight, that’s the point guard that coach (assistant Kurtis) Townsend and I saw just about every time he played in high school or AAU games – in the attack mode and aggressive. It’s tough to come in when you’re thinking instead of playing, but tonight, there was no thinking going on there. He was just out there ballin’ and I thought he was fabulous.”
Collins deferred most of the credit to his teammates.
“I just hit a couple of big shots. My teammates found me when I was open,” he explained.
The coach gave Collins a little more credit than that.
“I was trying to think after the game, you know, we’ve had some unbelievable wins here where guys have taken games over, but I don’t know I’d remembered where one individual took over a game more in a big game late like he did today. For a young kid, that’s pretty strong,” Self said.
Collins was asked if he knew how many points he’d scored. He said he didn’t because he’s always thinking about the next play. He did admit, though, that he knew he was the hot hand Monday night.
“I was just feeling it a little bit and my teammates just got me the ball,” Collins said.
On a night when the offense was good but not great, the Chicago native said he was just doing his job: trying to give his teammates a lift.
“I really didn’t envision myself carrying the team,” he said, “but I’m capable of doing things like that. I just stepped up when we needed someone to step up.”
Postgame, Self was generous in his praise of first-year MU coach Mike Anderson and his team, saying the Tigers were extremely focused, hungry and fed off the Allen Field House crowd. While KU wasn’t great, much of that had to do with a dogged effort put forth by an extremely quick, disciplined Missouri team.
“I can’t say enough about Missouri and how well they played. I thought they played smart, they played so hard and we were fortunate,” Self said.
He continued later, “We didn’t play our best tonight. We were fortunate. But I’m not going to say we played poorly, because that’s not giving Missouri enough credit. They were terrific tonight.”
Collins and Arthur weren’t alone in their heroics. Self cited other Jayhawks for their contributions to an all-around solid effort in a big game.
“Russell (Robinson) stepped up tonight. Brandon (Rush) had a pretty good game. Sasha (Kaun), it’s a hard game for him to play in, but still he gave us 25 good minutes. There were some guys who played well,” the coach said. “Julian (Wright), I didn’t feel like it was his best game and all he does is get 10 rebounds and five assists and one turnover, so he had his moments, too. It was a great win that we didn’t play our best but it was because Missouri played very, very well.”
Robinson had six points on two-of-three shooting, both from behind the arc. He also registered three steals and seven assists, the biggest of which came at the 1:44 mark of the second half when he found a wide-open Collins for the three-pointer that extended KU's lead to 76-72.
Rush wasn’t at his best but was still plenty good, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven boards.
Kaun scored nine points and recorded seven rebounds.
Next up: Kansas will travel to Lubbock to rave on against Bob Knight’s Texas Tech Red Raiders this Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.