Paulding's shot comes up short

MU basketball fans had seen it before.

Their Tigers down by three points late in a game, junior wing Rickey Paulding coming off a screen, coming free and receiving a pass for a three-point attempt.

They were just hoping for another swish, like the one Paulding provided Nov. 2 in an 81-80 overtime win against the EA Sports All-Stars using that play.

Instead, fans watched as the ball clanked off the rim with 15 seconds left and as Kansas closed out a 79-74 victory over MU Sunday, ending the Tigers' 14-game home winning streak.

"I really thought he was going to make that shot," coach Quin Snyder said.

Snyder's faith came despite Paulding's shooting woes on the day. He shot 5-of-20 from the floor and 0-of-8 from three-point range.

"That was the shot I wanted," Paulding said. "I thought I was open, and I thought maybe I'd make one for a change."

Paulding had also missed a shot from the baseline on MU's previous possession that would have given the Tigers the lead with less than a minute left.

Paulding said he would make that shot nine times out of ten.

"It was unfortunate that it happened (Sunday), but you have those days," Paulding said.

Those two plays were called for Paulding despite the hot hand of junior point guard Ricky Clemons, who shot 6-of-7 in the second half, including 4-of-4 three-pointers.

"Every player would like that shot," Clemons said. "But, you know, he had an open look and he took it, and we all want him to take shots when he's open. It just came up short, and there's really nothing you can do about it."

Junior guard Josh Kroenke said the team deferred to Paulding as the team leader in the clutch situation.

"There was a couple different options on that play, and Rickey was obviously our first one," Kroenke said. "He had the right read, he pulled up for the shot, and all of our confidence was in Rickey. I thought he was going to make it."

Snyder said there was nothing wrong with Paulding taking the shot.

"He got a clean look for three, and he deserves to see that ball," Snyder said.

Snyder also said Paulding played well for the whole game, and that defending Kansas' guard Kirk Hinrich may have tired him out. Hinrich made a 25-foot three-pointer that put MU down three in the play immediately prior to Paulding's three-point miss. Both Hinrich and Paulding shared their teams' lead with 20 and 21 points respectively.

"Two gladiators going at it," Snyder said of Paulding and Hinrich. "I took him out, but he said, &#39Coach, I'm ready.' He's our warrior. I'll lose with that kid anytime, because we'll win more with him."

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