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Ghostbusters? Young MU not haunted by Edney
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Missouri isn't haunted by the ghost of Tyus Edney.
When the 12th seed in the West Regional plays UCLA in the round of 16 on Thursday night, it'll be the first meeting between the teams since Edney's famous length-of-the-court dash. His shot in the second round of the 1995 tournament in the final 4.8 seconds allowed the top-rated Bruins to escape with a 75-74 victory and eventually win the national championship.
So much time has passed since then that nobody on the team has given that layup, one of the most devastating moments in school history, any thought.
Center Arthur Johnson and forward Rickey Paulding, both sophomores, were seventh-graders in Detroit when the team that featured transfer Paul O'Liney, Jason Sutherland, Derek Grimm, Julian Winfield and the Haley twins, Sammie and Simeon, just missed against the Bruins.
"I've heard a lot about it since I got here," Johnson said. "But it doesn't affect me like it affects a lot of people from Missouri, I guess."
Backup point guard Wesley Stokes went to the same high school as Edney, Long Beach Poly, and both played for the same coach, but he's also just a sophomore. And he didn't know about the play until after deciding to go to Missouri.
"It really doesn't mean a whole lot to anybody on this team," Stokes said. "I don't think it's going to happen again."
Sophomore forward Travon Bryant also is from Long Beach, and he's seen Edney around town during the summer. Edney, after failing in a few NBA stops, is the point guard and averaging 17.8 points and four assists in 14 games with Benetton Basket in Italy.
"I remember cheering for UCLA when he made that shot," Bryant said. "Pretty much I didn't know that much about Missouri back then.
"We know we're going to try to prevent that from happening again."
As for coach Quin Snyder, he only joked that he was "rooting for Missouri" in the spring of 1995. He was taking 20 hours in law school and business school in the spring of 1995.
"I had six classes and I was working my tail off to graduate during the NCAA tournament," Snyder said. "I wasn't watching the tournament at that point, I was debating whether or not I wanted to get into coaching.
"Tyus Edney hit that shot and I knew I wanted to get into coaching and coach Missouri and beat UCLA, ha ha ha."
Another good reason for ignoring the past is Missouri (23-11) is playing so well right now. The Tigers were underacheivers most of the season, dropping from No. 2 after a 9-0 start to unranked without a single vote before the conference tournament.
They've already knocked off No. 5 Miami and No. 4 Ohio State in the NCAA tournament, winning both games convincingly.
"There's no better time to be playing well than right now," Bryant said.
Now they'll be facing another higher seed in No. 8 UCLA, and another team that didn't meet expectations until the postseason. UCLA has been ranked as high as ninth, but hasn't been in the poll the last five weeks.
Then the Bruins (21-11) upset No. 1 seed Cincinnati in double-overtime on Sunday, making for a matchup of teams who weren't supposed to be playing. It's been referred to as a "redemption game."
"If you accept the idea that we've been redeemed, then you first have to accept that you've sinned," Snyder said. "I don't really think that we've been a bunch of sinners.
"I think we've been a bunch of guys who have grown up, and we needed a tough season in order to mature."