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Chalmers steps up to lift Kansas over USC

Dec 3, 2007 - 12:45 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Mario Chalmers was able to make the shots that O.J. Mayo could not.

Chalmers scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half as fourth-ranked Kansas squeaked out a 59-55 victory over No. 24 Southern California on Sunday.

Although the sophomore guard made a number of big shots in the second half, none was bigger than when the Jayhawks (7-0) were trying to stem off a late charge by the Trojans.

After two free throws by freshman Davon Jefferson cut USC's deficit to 55-53 with 53 seconds left, Chalmers stepped up with the shot clock winding down and knocked down a deep 3-pointer 34 ticks later.

"They ought to give Chalmers four points from where that shot came from," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "The kid made a big shot."

The play was originally designed to put the ball into the post, but Chalmers alertly saw that shot clock was close to expiring.

"The original play was for us to get the ball into the post, and I saw there was only five seconds left and the person guarding me kind of sagged back so when I got the ball back I just shot it," Chalmers said.

Although Chalmers was the big offensive contributor in the second half, Kansas coach Bill Self was displeased with his some of the play, as he committed five turnovers without any assists.

"I'll be the first to tell you I wasn't pleased at all with his play (Chalmers) from a mental standpoint," Self said. "But he competed hard and showed a lot of poise and he made some big plays down the stretch and, of course, his shot was the biggest shot of the game."

Chalmers finished 6-of-11 from the field with three 3-pointers despite missing four of his first five shots in the opening half.

"I've always thought that I could get the ball at the end of a game and that I could make a play," Chalmers said. "My teammates trust me and things worked out well."

While Chalmers rose to the occasion, the talented freshman Mayo appeared to be too caught up in the moment of facing one of the nation's top teams, forcing a number of ill-advised shots.

Mayo did scored 19 points, but went 6-of-21 from the field and missed eight of his 11 attempts from the arc.

Despite averaging 21 points over his first eight games of his career, Mayo went through his second straight subpar shooting effort, going 14-of-40 overall and 4-of-15 on 3-pointers against Oklahoma and Kansas.

"In college, you have to go out every day and work your butt off," Mayo said. "There's a lot of filmwork and scouting reports to study. They just want to play towards your weaknesses and exploit every weakness."

Overall, it was a unimpressive effort by both offenses, as neither Kansas or USC where better than 39 percent from the field.

Behind 34 percent (11-of-32) shooting in the first half, the Jayhawks trailed 27-25 at the break.

Chalmers helped turn it around after intermission, converting consecutive three-point plays to give his club a 35-32 edge with just over 17 minutes remaining.

Although the Trojans managed to go back ahead at 40-37 on a 3-pointer by Daniel Hackett with 13:32 left, the Jayhawks went on an 14-2 burst to retake the lead for good. Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur all had four points during the spurt.

Arthur finished with 10 points before fouling out and Darnell Jackson added nine for Kansas, which beat a Pac-10 Conference foe for the second straight week, following up on a 76-72 home win over Arizona.

The Jayhawks took advantage of a foul-plagued Taj Gibson, finishing with a 42-30 advantage in rebounding, including 14-6 on the offensive end.

"Our offensive rebounding was what won us the game," Self said. "They missed 32 shots and got six back and we missed 36 shots and got 14 back, which is eight extra possessions."

Eventually fouling out, the 6-9 Gibson was limited to just two points and five rebounds in 25 minutes.

"Taj's Gibson absence is significant," Floyd said. "He's been our primary rebounder. We got beat on the boards."

The sophomore also struggled with fouls in the Trojans' previous game, managing just two points and three rebounds in nine minutes against Oklahoma before fouling out.

Jefferson scored 17 points and Daniel Hackett added 11 for USC (6-2).