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HIS FINAL TASK WAS HELPING FROM BENCH

When they took the basketball away from him, and did it with such ease, Tyus Edney looked at Jim Harrick with sad brown eyes. They knew that UCLA, Tyus' team for going on four years, would be someone else's forever more, 371/2 minutes earlier than either expected or wanted.

Tyus Edney got them here. The rest of them had to finish it.So Edney sat down to assistant coach Steve Lavin's left and watched his last college basketball game. He watched them win it. He watched them become national champions. He watched them all do things few thought they could without him, without their 5-foot-10 point guard, whose right wrist was bandaged and unwilling.

They beat Arkansas 89-78 and afterward the Final Four MVP grabbed a microphone in one hand, Edney in the other and hushed the crowd at the Kingdome.

"Hey hear this, hear this, yo, yo, yo," Ed O'Bannon cried. "This is the real MVP right here. This is the man."

Edney looked up at O'Bannon and smiled so sweetly, so appreciatively.

"That was a great feeling," Edney said later. "To have that come from such a great player."

O'Bannon scored 30 points, without one assist from Edney. Freshman Toby Bailey scored 26, without a pass from Edney. A couple hours earlier Edney had pulled up next to Lavin, had left his own dream in the hands of a sophomore, his pupil, Cameron Dollar.

"Is there any way?," Lavin asked Edney.

"No," Edney said softly. "It's messed up. It's just not fair. It's not right."

The pain for Edney began Saturday night at a particularly rough encounter in the Bruins' "red zone," what they call the area underneath their opponents' basket. Oklahoma State's Randy Rutherford glided toward a layup, or a dunk. We'll never know, because Edney threw his 150 pounds at Rutherford. The basketball never got to the rim, and Edney and Rutherford slammed to the floor, Edney landing on his wrist.

He could not sleep Saturday night. Doctors told him Sunday it was a sprain. The treatments started with ice and gradually turned to heat. The throbbing eased Sunday night, but still Edney knocked on Dollar's hotel room door that evening and told him, "Get ready to play tomorrow."

Still, he jogged onto the floor just before gametime at the head of a line of UCLA players, just as he had for the last three years. He shot layups with his left hand, caught the ball with his left hand. And when he tried a five-foot jumpshot moments before tipoff, it fell two feet short, he grabbed his wrist and squealed at the pain.

To his credit, Edney several times broke Arkansas' press with only one arm, angling to his left, unable to cross over. But 2 minutes and 31 seconds into UCLA's championship, Arkansas players began to take the basketball away from Edney. Six seconds later his UCLA career was over.