Threes spoil bid for upset

It was as if Josh Kroenke were having a nightmare.

Kroenke squirmed in his seat and contorted his face into pained expressions as he searched for a word that would sufficiently embody the feeling of a 79-74 loss to arch rival Kansas that was ripped from his team's grasp.

After a moment, Kroenke looked up and said, "Indescribable."

Indescribable may also be the best term for the pair of Kansas three-pointers that cost the Tigers the game.

MU (18-9 overall, 9-7 Big 12) led 74-71 with 1:20 left in the second half when KU sophomore point guard Aaron Miles hit a three with no time left on the shot clock. After junior wing Rickey Paulding missed a jump shot on the ensuing possession, senior guard Kirk Hinrich put KU up 77-74 with a three from near half court.

Coach Quin Snyder said his team defended extremely well on both occasions.

"Both of those possessions we really defended for over a minute and, I thought, had stops," Snyder said.

After a time-out, Paulding took the inbound pass and missed a three-pointer with 15 seconds left. The Jayhawks made two free throws at the end of the game to secure a victory.

Snyder said his team should not have let the game come to that.

"When you're fighting the heavyweight champ, you can't let it go to a decision," Snyder said. "You've got to knock him out."

Freshman guard Jimmy McKinney said he believes MU should have come away from the Hearnes Center victorious.

"I think we beat them in every aspect of the game," McKinney said.

Paulding and junior point guard Ricky Clemons led the Tigers with 21 points each.

Snyder said Paulding's energy throughout the game was outstanding.

"Rickey Paulding was trying to will us to win," Snyder said.

MU willed the Jayhawks into 19 turnovers, but committed 17 of its own. That number included five by McKinney.

Snyder said McKinney is still learning how to run the offense against such high-level competition.

"There aren't too many guys who come in and play point in this league as freshman," Snyder said. "You're going to have some growing pains. Jimmy's growing up in front of everybody on national TV, but it's going to make him stronger."

McKinney said his turnovers were not due to his age.

"It's too late for freshman excuses," McKinney said. "I made a lot of mental mistakes today, but I kept my head in there."

Seniors Hinrich and Nick Collison led KU with 20 points.

McKinney said their performances were big for the Jayhawks.

"They're experienced players," McKinney said. "Every time we tried to go on a run, they had an answer for us."

The Tigers' next game will be in the Big 12 Tournament when they face last-place Nebraska at 2:20 p.m. Thursday in Dallas. They defeated the Cornhuskers 63-56 in Lincoln, Neb., and 67-50 in the Hearnes Center earlier this season.

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