Winning Time is Collins' Time

Arguably the greatest basketball player ever, Michael Jordan once said: "I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."

Sherron Collins can relate to "His Airness." The KU junior point guard was "failing" Saturday afternoon against Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse. Shot after shot, Collins kept missing. But shot after shot, Collins kept trying.

He missed his first eight three-point attempts on a dreadful shooting day. And now with under four minutes remaining, the downtrodden Buffaloes (9-11, 1-5 in Big 12) were within seven points (59-52) after coming back from a 21-point second-half deficit.

It was time for Collins to take over.

The Chicago native finally busted his streak with a three-ball from the right wing, stretching KU's lead to 10. But then Brady Morningstar and Collins both missed a  three-pointer, followed by a missed layup from Collins. Colorado found new life and cut KU's lead to just three points (62-59) on a three-pointer by Nate Tomlinson with 1:02 remaining.

On KU's most important possession and with the Jayhawks' nation-leading 35-game home-winning streak in jeopardy, Collins beat his man at the top of the key, drove the right lane and tossed in a seven-foot floater with one tick left on the shot clock and 24 seconds remaining.

After a jumper in the paint by Dwight Thorne II, Colorado still had last hope down by three (64-61) with seven seconds left. But the Buffs fouled the money man Collins, who swished two charities and extended his free-throw shooting streak to 29.

This game was over as KU won its sixth straight game (66-61) and climbed to 17-4, 6-0 in Big 12.

While he had his worst shooting game of the season (4-16, 1-10 from three-point range), Collins was the hero who scored seven of his 11 points in the last 3:37. None was more important than his floater with 24 seconds left.

"I was able to get past the first guy. I got free and was able to elevate over him and make the shot," Collins said. "At least that was one of my shots I knew was going in today. That's one of my moves in my game. I just throw the floater. I got to because I'm not the biggest person out there."

The 5-11 guard came into the game averaging 20.2 points in Big 12 play and ranking third in the conference in scoring at 18.7 points per game. But he couldn't buy a bucket until late in the game.

"It was one of those days," Collins said. "My teammates carried me, especially Cole (15 points, including 13 in first half). Brady (10 points) hit some big shots and Tyrel (Reed) hit one of the biggest shots in the game (a three-pointer with 5:53 remaining which pushed KU's slim 54-52 lead to five points). Markieff (Morris, 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 12 minutes) brought a lot of energy off the bench, too."

"Everything felt good when it came off my hand," Collins added. "A couple rimmed in and out. I just missed some shots that I normally hit."

But he hit the biggest shot of the game in crunch time.

"I think he made the most important play down the stretch," KU coach Bill Self said. "When it got down tight, that's when guys got to step up and make plays. For him to have an off day like that, he makes a huge shot late and gets fouled. He makes his free throws. He still contributed."

Self, though, wants Collins to "find a way to control a game without scoring. I think he had some opportunities to do that but he came frustrated with his shot. He started maybe when things weren't going well, ‘Hey let's get an easy one instead of taking a hard one.'"

Self was referring specifically to a charging call on Collins with 6:45 remaining and KU up 54-50, when the junior tried to make a play for himself instead of passing to an open Reed on the wing.

Collins is still learning and developing his game. He's still the guy Self wants late in the game with the ball.

Winning time is Collins' time.

He may not be Michael Jordan, but you can bet Sherron Marlon Collins will never stop trying no matter how many times he misses or "fails."

Colorado head coach Jeff Bzdelik certainly knows Collins is a winner.

"That is a great young talent making a great play," Bzdelik said about the guard's decisive floater. "We forced him into a tough shot. But give him credit, he is a very talented young man and I have the utmost respect for him. He made a couple of big shots and free throws down the stretch."

Phog.net Top Stories