The success of the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA tournament is largely dependent on Tyshawn Taylor. It's believed that if the senior point guard controls his mistakes, Bill Self's team will be a serious contender for the national championship. And if Taylor plays with the same "chicken with its head cut off" mentality that plagued him early in his career? Kansas almost found out what would happen.
After a would-be go-ahead 3-pointer by Purdue's Robbie Hummel hit the rim with seven seconds left in Sunday's third-round game, Taylor sprinted wide near the sideline and caught a pass from teammate Thomas Robinson. His Jayhawks were up one point and time was winding down. Catch the pass and hold on to the ball and the game is over. Give in to years of basketball instincts and take the easy dunk; Purdue gets the ball back with a chance to tie. Taylor chose the latter option.
It ended up being a moot point. Purdue's last-second 3-point attempt failed and Kansas advanced.
If you're going to get on Taylor about dunking, the same criticism has to be lobbed at Purdue's Lewis Jackson for giving up on the play. Once Taylor beats him on the break, Jackson slows up. KU only had a chance to run out the clock because Jackson didn't pursue.
Yeah, he should have dribbled out the time. As long as we're speaking about hypothetical absolutes for the Jayhawks, Kansas should have guarded Robbie Hummel better and Thomas Robinson shouldn't have missed so many shots from inside the paint and that junk triangle-and-two defense Bill Self used in the second half should have held Purdue scoreless. You can't play every game perfectly.
In this case, Taylor's mistake suffices. Kansas still survived a poor effort from two of its best players and kept its hopes alive for a showdown with North Carolina in the South Regional Final.
The Jayhawks play N.C. State in a Sweet 16 game on Friday.