Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
And now there’s Tyshawn being Tyshawn.
In the span of a few heart-stopping moments late Saturday night, Taylor gaveth and he tooketh away.
The Hoboken, N.J., native and former St. Anthony star hit two clutch foul shots with 8.3 seconds remaining to give Kansas a three-point lead after they had trailed by as many as 13 in the national semifinals against Ohio State.
And then, in the blink of an eye, he stole an inbounds pass from Lenzelle Smith and fired a crosscourt bounce pass to Elijah Johnson then ended up going to Kansas coach Bill Self instead.
“I was trying to end the game, Elijah was trying to score the ball, so it was just a little bit of mixup,” Taylor said after Kansas held on for a 64-62 victory thanks in part to Ohio State guard Aaron Craft leaving the foul line early in the final seconds.
“And I ended up throwing the ball to Coach [Bill] Self. He told me, ‘Yeah, I was open but I think you threw it like three feet behind me.’
“It was a little bit of mixup but good thing it happened with only 2 seconds left or whatever it was.”
Taylor finished with 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting with 9 assists, 3 rebounds and 5 turnovers.
“The steal he got after he made his free throws were huge,” Self said. “Then, of course, he passed it to me on the sideline, which wasn’t smart. But he was big.”
He moved into sixth place on the all-time Kansas assist list (572), but he’s also 0-for-20 from 3 in the tournament.
Tyshawn being Tyshawn.
“I don’t know, I’m going to keep shooting it, though,” he said with a laugh of his 3-point struggles. “I’m going to keep shooting it. Hopefully, my last game in college I can make a 3 in the Dome, hopefully. We gonna see, because I’m going to shoot it definitely.
He actually hopes Monday’s national championship game against Kentucky comes down to him taking a 3-pointer.
“I hope it does because I’m going to shoot it confidently and I’m going to knock it down,” he said.
Taylor’s troubled history at Kansas has been well documented but here he is, one win from leading his team to a national championship.
Kentucky beat Kansas, 75-65, Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden in a game in which Taylor had 22 points.
This time around, he thinks the Jayhawks can stop Kentucky’s seemingly inevitable run to a title under coach John Calipari.
“That was the second game of the season,” Taylor said. “And I’m sure they got a lot better but I know for a fact we got a lot better, too.
“So I’m excited, man. I’m excited. This is what you come to Kansas for. We’re playing in the national championship against another historic program with great players so you just gotta be excited and we are.”
Taylor won a mythical national title at St. Anthony in 2008 and he’s now one win from winning a college title, too.
“I mean, that’s huge,” Taylor said. “Man, I don’t know how many guys can actually say that. I was talking to Coach [Bob] Hurley the other day and he told me of all his college players that he’s gotten to college, I was the third one to make it to the Final Four. Bobby [Hurley], Rodrick Rhodes and myself, so a huge accomplishment, man.
“I’m just going to try to bring this thing back to Jersey, baby, let’s go.”
Appropriately, Taylor, a St. Anthony player, will face Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a St. Patrick player, in the final.
St. Anthony and. St. Patrick have been the two most dominant teams in New Jersey — and among the best in the nation — for the last quarter century.
Though Taylor is three years older than Kidd-Gilchrist, the respect is mutual.
“Got a lot of respect for Mike,” Taylor said. “Me and him were talking at the banquet the other day, man, and I told him that I would see him on Monday and we both here.
“So somebody’s taking it back to Jersey. I hope it’s me, man.”
And that’s it, just Tyshawn being Tyshawn.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.