Reporting from Lawrence, Kan. — The whistle blew, and the possibilities seemed endless.
Score tied, no time on the clock and Kansas' school-record home winning streak in serious jeopardy.
Except for the little matter of the foul on UCLA guard Malcolm Lee.
Lee remained confident that time had expired and the game was headed to overtime. Bruins forward Tyler Honeycutt thought the Jayhawks would merely be awarded the ball out of bounds with less than a second to play.
What happened shocked them both. After converging to watch the replay, referees put seven-tenths of a second on the clock and awarded Kansas' Mario Little the two free throws that allowed the fourth-ranked Jayhawks to pull out a 77-76 victory Thursday night at Allen Fieldhouse in the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series.
Little made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, leaving Honeycutt insufficient time to get off a desperation heave.
"You just lose the game off a tacky foul and the free throws at the end, that's kind of hard," Lee said. "You might as well lose by 30 because that's just crazy."
The wild ending came after Honeycutt had pulled the Bruins into a 76-76 tie with four seconds left on his fifth three-pointer, capping a dazzling display in which the sophomore scored a career-high 33 points on 11-for-15 shooting.
After Kansas raced up the court, Little and Lee converged on a loose ball when the whistle blew. Little then hoisted a wild shot well after the contact.
UCLA Coach Ben Howland didn't contain his displeasure with the call after watching the replay on a computer in the locker room.
"Really, really a poor way to end the game on a call," Howland said. "Normally, you wouldn't make that kind of call at that point in the game unless it was very obvious, and from what I saw it was very disappointing to have the game end on that note."
There was plenty of frustration to go around for the Bruins (3-3) after they couldn't hold the four-point lead that freshman center Joshua Smith had given them on two free throws with 8:15 remaining. Kansas (7-0) scored the next eight points and never trailed again on the way to its 64th consecutive home victory.
The previously foul-prone Smith had the best game of his fledgling career after being replaced in the starting lineup by Brendan Lane, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds while logging only two fouls.
Honeycutt also repeatedly bailed the Bruins out of deficits, recording a rare pair of four-point plays in which he made three-pointers and a subsequent free throw after drawing fouls.
But UCLA junior point guard Lazeric Jones had a few shaky moments playing in a raucous atmosphere. He committed four first-half turnovers and deviated from the shot Howland wanted with the score tied at 64, missing a layup. Jones also later missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity with Kansas leading by three points and 19 seconds to go.
It was Jones' first missed free throw of the season after he had made his first 10 foul shots. But the Bruins got the ball back after Tyler Lamb helped force a turnover along the baseline, leading to Honeycutt's tying three-pointer and the crazy finish.
"It's one of the worst ways to lose," Honeycutt said. "I would rather somebody make a half-court shot than to call a foul like that. As refs, you're supposed to just let that go. We had been playing our heart out all night and you have to let us go into overtime and finish that game."