Padgett's jumper stuns Tigers

For the second year in a row, Kansas stunned the Tigers in the final minute, this time on a jumper by freshman David Padgett in the Hearnes Center's final regular season game.

Once again, Kansas exited the Hearnes Center leaving everyone in it stunned.

When David Padgett's turnaround jumper with two seconds went in, it gave Kansas its second straight narrow defeat at Hearnes, this one an 84-82 heartbreaker. This one, though, had to hurt a lot more.

It ached because of how hard senior Arthur Johnson, in his last regular season game, fought to keep the Tigers in it with a career-high 37 points.

It pained because of the 13 missed free throws, with Missouri wasting opportunity after opportunity to take control.

It burned because the Tigers left the Hearnes Center with a loss, and a loss to rival Kansas at that.

But most of all, this one hurt because with such a narrow defeat, those two points just made Missouri's road to the NCAA Tournament a whole lot rockier.

"This is as difficult of a loss as I've ever been associated with," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said.

The Tigers dropped to 15-13, and at 9-7 in the Big 12, they missed their chance at a bye in the Big 12 Tournament. Instead, sixth-seeded Missouri will play a first-round game against Texas A&M at 8:20 on Thursday in Dallas.

The chance at that bye, though, was oh-so-close.

After Johnson rallied the Tigers back from a 77-67 deficit, Missouri took an 80-79 lead after Jason Conley stole an inbounds pass after it hit his leg and then dunked it with 48.7 seconds left.

But the game was nowhere close to over. Kansas' Aaron Miles, who killed the Tigers last year with a last-minute 30-foot heave, made an open 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, and like that, Missouri was down two.

"He went up there and rose up in confidence and knocked it down," forward Travon Bryant said. "You have to give him credit for that. It was a lot better shot than he put up last year."

Conley came back and made two free throws to tie it at 82 with 15.4 seconds left, leaving the Jayhawks with the last possession. Guard Keith Langford stalled before dishing it to Padgett, who put up a line-drive jumper over Johnson, and the Hearnes Center crowd hushed as it went in.

"We defended it really well," Snyder said. "We didn't block the shot or steal the ball, but we got a body up on him, and we didn't let (Kansas forward Wayne) Simien shoot."

The loss overshadowed the most brilliant game of Johnson's career, a dominating performance that kept Missouri going even when it seemed like Kansas had run away with it.

"We wasted a great effort by A.J.," Snyder said.

Johnson shot 13-of-17, and even though he made only 11-of-17 free throws, he made all of the ones that counted.

With the Tigers trailing 77-68, the next four possessions went to Johnson. He made a basket on the first one, and then made both of his free throws on the next three. With Rickey Paulding nursing a right ankle injury and several other Tigers struggling to find their shot, Johnson took the team on his back.

"You really can't put into words how well he played," Bryant said. "He's just outstanding. He is playing at another level that no one else is on. He just went out there and played like an animal, and played the game like it was his last."

Not so many of the Tigers had Johnson's luck at the free-throw line down the stretch. The Tigers finished 19-of-32 on the day, and several of those misses were in the last six minutes. Missouri missed three straight times on the first free throws of a one-and-one, letting the Jayhawks build the 10-point lead. Then when Conley was fouled on a made layup to make pull the Tigers to 79-78, he missed the free throw to tie it.

"We left a lot out there," Snyder said.

Johnson refused to let the free-throw shooting take the downfall for the loss, one in which the Tigers allowed Kansas to shoot 57.1 percent, including 55.6 percent on 3-pointers.

"Even with that, at the end of the game, (free throws) didn't lose the game for us," Johnson said.


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