The scale has not been invented that could weigh all the freight
tiny Tyus Edney carried with him in his full-court dash through
the Missouri defense with a mere 4.8 seconds remaining. Strapped
to Edney's narrow back was the outcome of UCLA's second-round
tournament game, which the Tigers were winning 74-73 at the Boise
State Pavilion in Idaho. There was also the fruition of a 26-2
season, the Bruins' best in two decades. There was the ignominy of
UCLA's first-round loss last season to Tulsa and, while we're
counting, the embarrassment of two other subregional defeats in
the last five years. There was the reputation of coach Jim
Harrick, if not his very job. And there was the imponderable
gravity of the last 20 years, of the 20 national titles not won by
This is an article from the April 15, 1995 issue
Oh, it was a considerable burden that the 5 10", 152-pound Edney
carried. And on a sore right ankle, to boot.
Edney's slight sprain had been the sole price of UCLA's 92-56
first-round romp over Florida International, whose 11-18 record
was the worst of any team allowed into the tournament since 1961.
Not since Lew Alcindor patrolled the paint in the Bruins' 90-52
demolition of Santa Clara in 1969 had the Bruins enjoyed such a
victory spread in the tournament. The game would have been even
uglier had Edney not limped off after the first 15 minutes and had
Harrick not deployed the end of his bench, rescinding his
challenge to the Bruins to hold the Golden Panthers to 40 points.
Every player on Harrick's roster scored at least two points and
played at least six minutes.
Still, the Bruins hadn't considered FIU a pushover. The wound from
the 112- 102 loss to Tulsa last year was still fresh, and this
year's tournament had already heard plenty of Cinderella smack.
Manhattan had manhandled Oklahoma, and Weber State had rudely cut
short Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote's farewell tour, so Bruin
freshman guard Toby Bailey, for one, didn't take the Golden
Panthers lightly. ``This was a hard game to play,'' he said later.
``You didn't want to be taken off guard.''
As happened to Indiana, which had been expected to face the Bruins
in the second round but had lost to hot-shooting Missouri 65-60.
The Bruins made easy work of FIU, though, and as their
second-round game approached, Edney's ankle was just one of
Harrick's worries. How well would George Zidek match up with
Missouri's 7-foot twin towers, Sammie and Simeon Haley? Could the
UCLA defense neutralize Paul O'Liney, a 6 2", 210-pound guard who
had lit up Indiana for 22 points while fending off the defensive
attentions of three different Hoosiers?
As the game got under way on Saturday, March 19, Edney's ankle
loosened up, and Zidek more than held his own. Harrick's other
concerns loomed larger. O'Liney -- whose nickname, Deuce, seemed
almost belittling after he made all four of his three-point
attempts in the first half -- poured in 16 points to lead Mizzou
to a 42-34 halftime advantage. Early in the second half the Bruins
rallied with a 15-0 run, but the Tigers, who made 12 of 19
three-point tries on the day, clawed back.
With 2:16 to go and UCLA trailing 72-69, the Bruin band struck up
Taking Care of Business, a tune that was, incidentally, blaring
out of eight-track tape decks around the country 20 years ago,
when the Bruins' last championship team struggled past Montana
67-64 in the second round. The Bachman-Turner Overdrive classic
was familiar enough to Ed O'Bannon, who seemed to take it to heart
immediately. Within moments he hit a jumper to cut the deficit to
72-71. Then, after O'Liney misfired a three, Ed O was fouled by
Julian Winfield and sank both free throws for a 73-72 Bruin lead
with 58.9 seconds left.
Missouri coach Norm Stewart wanted the ball in O'Liney's hands
even though Cameron Dollar had held the Deuce to just seven points
in the second half. As the final minute ticked away, Dollar ran
through a screen -- a ``moving pick,'' Harrick later called it --
and was whistled for a foul. It was only UCLA's sixth foul of the
half, but it gave the Tigers the ball near midcourt with a new
shot clock and 38.9 seconds to play.
After Missouri inbounded, freshman guard Kendrick Moore stalled in
the backcourt for several seconds before dribbling toward the
lane. With six seconds on the shot clock and 9.5 seconds on the
game clock, Moore spun into the paint and dished off to Winfield,
who laid it off the glass for a 74-73 Missouri lead. UCLA called
timeout. There were 4.8 seconds remaining.
As the Bruins huddled near their bench, Harrick collected the
baggage of the last two decades and hoisted it onto Edney's
shoulders. The delivery instructions were simple. Said Harrick,
``Tyus, I want you to take the ball, and I want you to make the
play. Tyus, you're taking it. It's on you.''
Edney was to get the ball up the floor as quickly as possible and
either find someone for an open shot or take one himself. In
practice the Bruins do a drill in which they're supposed to go the
length of the court and shoot within three seconds. Edney has
become so accomplished at it that he knew he had enough time to at
least get up the floor and fire off a shot. He wasn't too
concerned about the tender ankle, which, he later admitted, had
curtailed his speed, reducing his ability to penetrate. Says
Edney, ``I heard Ed say, `We're going to win,' and that's all I
was thinking about when I went back out on the floor.''
As UCLA prepared to inbound the ball, Missouri's Moore turned to
his teammates on the floor -- a group that, perhaps fatefully, did
not include Sammie Haley, who ranked second in the Big Eight in
blocked shots -- and delivered the words Harrick had been counting
on: ``Don't foul.''
After taking the inbounds pass from Dollar, Edney started up the
left side of the floor with careful pressure from Jason
Sutherland. Just past midcourt, Edney saw another Tiger angling
over for a trap, so he whipped the ball behind his back and headed
for the lane. ``I saw two guys trying to cut me off,'' Edney said
later. ``That was just a natural reaction, to go behind my back
and cut their angle and open it up.''
Edney says that as he approached Missouri's last line of defense,
6 9" Derek Grimm, he wasn't thinking about UCLA's 1993
second-round West Regional game against Michigan's
Fab Five. In the midst of a last-ditch drive, with a chance to win
in regulation, Edney had been challenged in the lane by Wolverine
center Juwan Howard, and he tried to kick a pass out to O'Bannon
with the clock almost up. Jimmy King stole the ball, and UCLA lost
in overtime. Harrick has often said he wished Edney had taken the
This time Edney did. ``At the free throw line, I saw an open lane
and nobody coming at me,'' he said. ``I was going for the glass. I
knew I had to get it off the backboard.''
Edney danced through the paint, soared toward the hoop and, with
his right hand extended as far as it could go, flicked the ball
over and around Grimm's outstretched arms. After hanging in the
air long enough for the 11,886 spectators to die a thousand
deaths, the ball softly kissed the glass and slid through the net.
UCLA 75, Mizzou 74.
``I was right under the basket,'' Bailey would recall. ``I could
see it perfectly. It was in slow motion -- it hit off the glass
and headed for the rim.''
And with that shot the Bruins headed for Oakland, their load a