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Kansas finds unexpected, timely hero in Kevin Young

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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He won't be able to fill the vacancy left by injured point guard Tyshawn Taylor over the next three weeks, but Kansas discovered a dangerous new weapon on Saturday in junior forward Kevin Young.

In KU's 78-67 home triumph over Jared Sullinger-less Ohio State, Bill Self threw the Buckeyes for a bit of a loop by expanding Young's role, which to this point in the season had been as a bit player mostly used in mop-up duty.

Young came in having not played more than 14 minutes in a game this season, but played 16 minutes in the second half while scoring a season-high 14 points. He hit on his first six field goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Young wasn't put in the game to score, though. After Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas scored 15 points in a variety of ways in a close first half, the 6-foot-8 young was inserted to stick to Thomas like glue. The rest of the way, Thomas scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting.

"Kevin probably had as much to do with us winning the game as anything," Self said afterwards. "He scored points for us, but he did a great job on Thomas the second half. Great job.

"I haven't seen that, or if I have seen it, then certainly we've made a mistake by not playing him as much. But that was something today like his coming-out game."

Self went as far as to say that Young "bailed us out," which it looked like he wouldn't get a chance to do at all in his first season at KU. He said that Young hadn't showed that type of prowess or hustle consistently on the practice floor, but he might be inspired to now moving forward after seeing what it can produce.


Young had two successful seasons at Loyola Marymount before transferring out after the 2009-10 campaign, during which he averaged 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

The athletic, bouncy forward then took classes at Barstow Community College over the next year, and during that time, committed to play for San Diego State and signed a financial aid agreement. Then, out of nowhere, early this summer, he changed course and committed to Self, who was in need of bodies in a bad way heading into this season. There were conflicting stories regarding whether he was still committed to SDSU or not, but either way, it left Aztecs coach Steve Fisher vocally incensed over the matter.

After SDSU lost all three members of its starting front court following last season, Young could have played big minutes for the Aztecs right from go, and until Saturday, there were indications that he'd made a wrong decision. He played 14 minutes in KU's season-opening blowout of Towson, but hadn't played more than eight minutes in a game since then, including the dreaded 'Did Not Play' against Duke in the title game of the Maui Invitational.

Now, he's likely earned himself a chance to play a bigger part within KU's rotation moving forward.

Taylor suffered a torn meniscus and sprained MCL in his right knee in practice on Monday, but gutted it out on Saturday to play 35 minutes, scoring nine points and dishing 13 assists across from seven turnovers.

He'll now sit between one and three weeks, meaning that junior Elijah Johnson — an emerging perimeter scorer for the Jayhawks — will now assume most of the point guard duties. Young will have a chance to pick up some major minutes, and he'll be needed not only to defend like he did on Saturday, but also provide some offensive punch.

If he can capitalize on the opportunity, doubters who questioned his sudden switch over the summer will be silenced in a hurry.

Follow Ryan Greene on Twitter: @ryanmgreene

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