Photos by Karen Stockman
Kaitlyn Bailey stays warm on Sunday afternoon while she waits for her favorite basketball team to return from the NCAA tournament, where the Tigers finished in the Elite 8.
After stepping off the team bus, Zaire Taylor enters a tunnel of Mizzou fans on the south side of Mizzou Arena.
J.T. Tiller greets the crowd of approximately 200 people with high-fives, handshakes and autographs.
Coach Mike Anderson thanks the fans for their support. Although he didn’t speak, Steve Moore stood beside Anderson and several of his teammates who also thanked the fans.
Freshman Kim English returns an autographed poster after promising to bring home a national title next year.
There was a telling moment in the first half of Mizzou’s 102-91 upset of Memphis in the Sweet 16. A moment, with just seconds left on the clock, when Tigers fans felt goosebumps and started to wonder whether this truly could be a team of destiny.
Marcus Denmon, who had just been robbed of a three-pointer on the previous possession, took the inbounds pass. Tightly guarded, he had to heave the ball 70 feet toward the basket. And then, with the CBS cameras ready to follow the team into the locker room, the shot swooshed through and gave Mizzou a 49-36 halftime lead. Nothing was going to deny them.
J.T. Tiller led Mizzou offensively with a career-high 23 points. Leo Lyons had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. DeMarre Carroll added 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. Zaire Taylor (14) and Matt Lawrence (13) also were in double digits.
Mizzou (31-6) ended Memphis’ (33-4) 27-game winning streak and propelled Mizzou to the Elite 8 for just the fifth time in school history (including the 1943-44 season when just eight teams made the tournament). The Tigers next face UConn (30-4), the top seed in the West regional. The Huskies, who beat No. 5 Purdue on Thursday, have won by an average of 31.3 points in their three tournament games so far. To get to Mizzou’s first Final 4, they have to go through UConn and the Big East Player of the Year, Hasheem Thabeet.
Although Mizzou has never made the Final 4 before, perhaps these Tigers — the first in Mizzou history to rack up 30 wins and the first to win a Big 12 Championship — can pull off one more first.
With victories against Cornell and Marquette this weekend, the Mizzou men’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers, in their first NCAA tournament since 2003, started as the No. 3 seed in Boise, Idaho. Playing 14-seed Cornell on Friday afternoon, Mizzou thrashed the Big Red 78-59. Leo Lyons led the attack with 23 points and 10 rebounds and often imposed his will on his overmatched opponents.
Sunday afternoon, the Tigers didn’t have things quite so easy. Mizzou built an 11-point first half lead on outstanding team play. True freshman Kim English stood out, scoring 15 points in a torrid 4 1/2 minutes off the bench.
The Golden Eagles weren’t going down easily, and led 78-74 with less than two minutes to play. That’s when Mizzou coach Mike Anderson said he heard a player on the bench say, “We’ve been here before.”
The Tigers held on defense and tied the game at 79, but Marquette had a chance to go back ahead. In a textbook example of how their impeccable conditioning paid off, Mizzou clung to Marquette’s players like Cellophane and forced a shot clock violation with 19 seconds left.
Junior J.T. Tiller took the ball up the court, and taking advantage of a break in the defense, drove to the basket. The shot rimmed out, but Tiller was hammered on his way to the hoop. He was unable to take his two foul shots with 5.5 seconds left, so in came English with a chance to be a hero. English, not one to disappoint, swished them both.
The Mizzou defense brought its patented pressure and, in a break, got the ball back when Marquette’s Lazar Hayward stepped on the baseline on the inbounds pass. Two Leo Lyons free throws later, Mizzou won 83-79.
It was fitting that the last-second win would come at the same arena where the Tigers hearts had been broken nearly 15 years earlier. UCLA’s Tyus Edney took the ball the length of the court in 1995 to beat Mizzou, but Marquette had no such chance this year.
The Tigers now travel to Glendale, Ariz., just outside Phoenix, to take on the second-seeded Memphis Tigers. Memphis narrowly escaped upset in the first round in a 81-70 win against No. 15 Cal State Northridge that was closer than the final score indicated. Memphis left little doubt Saturday, dismantling Maryland 89-70. In the other West regional semifinal, No. 1 UConn plays No. 5 Purdue.
The pair of victories this weekend gives the Tigers a 30-6 record, and the 30 wins are the most in program history. Mizzou gets a chance to set the record even higher on Thursday at 8:37 p.m. Another win would give the Tigers a Saturday game with the time to be decided.
NCAA.com allows users to watch games online, follow scores in real time and updates brackets on the completion of games. Check back on Mizzou Wire and the Live Wire blog for more Mizzou coverage.
The Mizzou men’s basketball team took care of business this past weekend, and in turn, the NCAA selection committee took care of the Tigers.
After toppling Texas Tech in its first game of the Big 12 Tournament, Mizzou went on to beat No. 7 seed Oklahoma State 67-59 on Friday and No. 9 Baylor 73-60 in Saturday’s championship. It was Mizzou’s first Big 12 championship in any men’s sport and Mizzou’s second Big 12 championship this academic year, on the heels of the women’s soccer team’s championship in the fall.
The Tigers were rewarded with the West’s No. 3 seed in the Big Dance, where they will play Ivy League champion No. 14 Cornell in the first game Friday at 2 p.m. in Boise, Idaho. Assuming Mizzou wins, a safe bet for 3-14 matchups, the Tigers will play the winner of No. 6 Marquette and No. 11 Utah State on Sunday.
If Mizzou makes the Sweet 16, play shifts to the regional location of Glendale, Ariz. There, the Tigers could possibly play Conference USA champion No. 2 Memphis, a team that has won more than 60 consecutive games in conference. No. 1 in the region is UCONN, a powerhouse in the basketball-rich Big East Conference, which received three No. 1 seeds in the tournament.
Follow the brackets on NCAA.com, and check back for updates on the Live Wire Blog throughout the tournament.
Things couldn’t have gone better Thursday for Mizzou at the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
After a back-and-forth first half against Texas Tech, the Tigers (26-6) used a 17-2 run early in the second to build a 15-point lead. And they never looked back in the 81-60 quarterfinal beatdown of the Red Raiders.
DeMarre Carroll led Mizzou with 19 points, and J.T. Tiller and Matt Lawrence each scored 13. Zaire Taylor couldn’t be contained in any aspect of the game; he had eight points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
In addition to the win, the tournament bracket couldn’t have set up any better for the Tigers. No. 1 seed Kansas was knocked off by No. 9 Baylor to start the day. No. 5 Texas took down No. 4 Kansas State, and No. 2 Oklahoma lost to in-state rival Oklahoma State.
Sure, the teams that lost were considered, along with Mizzou, to have the best odds of winning. But it’s especially significant because No. 3 seeds are the lowest to ever win the Big 12 Tournament. The physical and mental stress of winning four games in four days for the lower-seeded teams has proven to be too much to overcome. So it would appear the path for the Tigers, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, has opened up widely.
Mizzou takes on No. 7 Oklahoma State at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Should the Tigers continue their run, they will play for the title Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN.
Several Tigers were awarded All-Big 12 postseason honors this season.
Senior DeMarre Carroll was named to both the Coaches’ and Associated Press All-Big 12 First Team. Additionally, Carroll was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team. He has led the Tigers in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (7.3) and is the only player in the conference to rank among the Top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and steals. In the classroom, Carroll excelled with a 3.70 grade point average in graduate school this year after earning a bachelor’s degree from Mizzou in 2008. For more on Carroll, please click here.
Fellow senior Matt Lawrence made the Academic Second Team and was picked by the coaches as the co-Sixth Man, given to the best bench player. Lawrence, who started several games this season and throughout his career, is third on the team in scoring (8.6) this season and third in Mizzou history with 222 three-pointers made.
Leo Lyons, another senior, was named to the Coaches’ and Associated Press Third Team. Lyons was second on the team in scoring (14.4) rebounds (5.8) and free-throw percentage (74.5).
Junior J.T. Tiller was named co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and selected to the All-Defensive Team. He led the team in steals (57) and assists (112) and was Mizzou’s most accurate free-throw shooter (75.7 percent). Junior transfer Zaire Taylor was picked to the All-Rookie Team.
Mizzou kicks off postseason play on ESPN2 Thursday at 8:30 p.m. in Oklahoma City. The third-seeded Tigers await the winner of Wednesday night’s game featuring No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 11 Texas Tech. For the rest of the bracket and future TV schedule, please visit the Big 12 Conference site.
More than 15,000 fans filled the Mizzou Arena to watch their Tigers defeat the Nebraska Cornhuskers 70-47 on Feb. 14. Photo by Shane Epping.
Valentine’s Day was not lost on several female MU fans in the front row of the students’ section. Top (left to right): Andrea Hoffman, Ann Oldenburg and Candace Clayborne-Harris. Bottom: Allison Sicking, Molly Krutek, Kayla Wohldmann and Sarah Bourne. Photo by Shane Epping.
During a timeout, head coach Mike Anderson encourages freshman guard Miguel Paul to focus. Photo by Shane Epping.
Junior guard J.T. Tiller, the admiration of above-mentioned fans, takes it to the hoop. Tiller scored 11 points and had 4 assists. Photo by Shane Epping.
Senior forward DeMarre Carroll, another Valentine’s Day fan favorite, scored 13 points and had 3 defensive rebounds. Carroll did his part to hold Nebraska to only 47 total points. Photo by Shane Epping.
Coach Anderson gives a quick shout-out to fans sitting above the tunnel where players and coaches enter and exit the arena. Photo by Shane Epping.
Story by Ryan Gavin
Following Mizzou’s 70-47 Valentine’s Day massacre of Nebraska on Saturday, a third-consecutive sellout crowd was moving toward the exits in a celebratory mood. Over the loudspeakers, Matchbox 20’s song “How Far We’ve Come” began to play. Although it may have been a random selection, there couldn’t have been a more perfect fit.
Two weeks ago, the team was just a vote getter and assumed to be a beneficiary of a weak early schedule. No longer. With the Nebraska beatdown and comeback thriller against Kansas last Monday, Mizzou (22-4, 9-2 Big 12 Conference) moved up to No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and to No. 11 in the AP media poll.
Still, to get a grasp on where this year’s Tigers have come from, it’s important to look back on the Nebraska road loss at the start of Big 12 play. At the time, Mizzou was 14-2 with some nice wins against USC, California and Georgia, but the Tigers lacked defining victories. Many college basketball experts expected the Tigers to fall back to the middle of the pack once conference play began. The 56-51 loss at Nebraska seemed to affirm those beliefs.
“I thought the game at Nebraska really helped us,” Anderson says. “It changed our approach. The games are getting bigger, so the key is how you deal with it.”
And so the Tigers didn’t collapse; instead they became resilient. With nine wins in the 10 games that followed that loss, and with the loss to Kansas State the only blemish, Mizzou is one of the hottest college basketball teams.
“Tiger basketball is about never giving up,” coach Mike Anderson says, his basketball philosophy echoing the team’s mentality this season. “We’ve got some guys who will fight and scratch and claw to give themselves a chance.”
Speaking of chances, Mizzou has an outside shot at taking the Big 12 regular-season title. What once seemed far-fetched is now not so impossible. First, the Tigers have to take care of business on their end by beating Kansas in Lawrence and Oklahoma in the regular-season finale at Mizzou Arena. Secondly, fans need to clench their teeth and cheer on the Jayhawks against Oklahoma on Feb. 23. If the scenario were to play out, Mizzou would finish a game ahead of Kansas and tied with the Sooners but would win the title based on the head-to-head victory.
To even be discussing the possibilities this late in the season speaks to how far Anderson has brought this team. Mizzou is 15 years removed from its perfect 14-0 conference season in 1994, which was the last time the Tigers won either a regular or postseason title in men’s basketball. And with this week off to prepare for a road contest against last place Colorado, Anderson doesn’t plan on letting his foot off the accelerator.
“I don’t ever take it easy on them,” Anderson says with a laugh.
Junior guard Zaire Taylor nails the winning shot for Mizzou with just 1.3 seconds left in the game. It marks the second game-winning shot Taylor has hit for the Tigers in the team’s past three games. Photo by Karen Stockman.
From blowout loss to blown opportunities to full-blown celebration, Mizzou’s 62-60 thriller of a comeback against bitter rival Kansas was an instant classic in the Border Showdown.
At halftime, the Tigers (21-4, 8-2 Big 12 Conference) trailed 30-16 as a result of several missed shots and suffocating defense by the Jayhawks (19-5, 8-1). Mizzou shot just 24.1 percent from the field, 1-for-10 from thee-point range, and was out-rebounded 30-15. Then coach Mike Anderson walked in the locker room.
“Coach Anderson just looked at us and laughed,” Carroll says. “He said, you guys left your game at home.
“The game is 40 minutes, not 20.”
The 15,061 fans at Mizzou Arena had plenty to celebrate in the comeback victory. Photo by Karen Stockman.
The Tigers made several runs at Kansas, cutting the deficit to three on several occasions before letting the Jayhawks’ lead balloon again.
Finally, with just 30 seconds left, Leo Lyons drove in and got fouled, with the Tigers trailing 58-56. The first shot swooshed through, and it seemed as though the nervous energy was about to burst forth from the 15,061 fans packed in to Mizzou Arena.
Every set of hands reached skyward, grasping for hope to complete the improbable comeback. Then, the second one clanged off the back of the rim before rolling back through. It was tied at 58. Goosebumps were visible on arms waving around pom poms, giant foam fingers and anything else they could find in the sheer pandemonium.
Senior forward DeMarre Carroll carried the Tigers on his back, leading the team with 22 points and seven rebounds. Photo by Karen Stockman.
With 49.7 seconds left, J.T. Tiller hit a shot to give Mizzou its first lead since the Tigers were up 11-10 early on. The fans’ roar became deafening, and the walls of the arena were literally vibrating with the impassioned crowd, almost as if in celebration of Mizzou’s undefeated home season this year.
On the other end, Kansas answered with just more than 23 seconds left, meaning the Tigers would have the game’s last shot. Lyons held the ball for what seemed an eternity to the hoarse but still screaming crowd. Finally, he kicked it to Zaire Taylor, who had just hit the winning shot on the road against Texas last week.
A pump fake threw off the defenders, allowing him to drive. And then he drained it.
“What can I say?” Anderson asked coyly afterward, grinning and fully enjoying the moment. “The kid’s got some moxie. He’s got some heart.”
Tiger fans storm Norm Stewart Court in celebration of Mizzou’s comeback victory. Photo by Karen Stockman.
The joyful exuberance flowed forth from the stands, as it later did from the eyes of Tiller and others in the Tiger locker room. The crowd flew by ushers, who knew it was an exercise in futility to try to turn back the tide of gold pouring onto Norm Stewart Court.
“This is one of the reasons I came here,” Anderson says. “You can make this place a tough place to play. We have to give them a reason to come, and when they come, we have to give them a reason to stay here.
There couldn’t have been a better finish to a game that ended like a childhood fantasy. Convincing fans to see the rest of this storybook season shouldn’t be a problem.
Carroll rejoices with teammates and fans following an emotional comeback in which the Tigers rallied several times. Photo by Karen Stockman.
Senior forward DeMarre Carroll, surrounded by a flock of Jayhawks last year at Mizzou Arena, was named the Big 12 Player of the Week. Photo by Shane Epping.
Tonight’s Border Showdown against Kansas has been looming on Mizzou’s schedule all season long, but as the Tigers have continued their hot play, ESPN’s featured game on Big Monday (8 p.m. at Mizzou Arena) has gotten bigger.
Mizzou (20-4, 7-2 Big 12 Conference) is back in the polls this week, coming in at No. 17 in the media poll and No. 19 in the coaches poll. And who happens to be right above them? Kansas, of course. The Jayhawks (19-4, 8-0) will put their undefeated conference record on the line against Mizzou’s unbeaten home record this season. Something’s gotta give.
The Tigers’ play of late also has garnered attention in the form of league awards. Senior forward DeMarre Carroll was named the Big 12 Player of the Week, while junior transfer Zaire Taylor was honored as Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.
Carroll averaged 22.0 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 59.4 percent from the floor in wins at Texas and Iowa State. Taylor had 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting against Texas, including a game-clinching layup with 5.5 seconds left.
Mizzou is asking fans to wear gold for this evening’s game, coming into which each team has four or fewer losses for the first time since 1990. This might be the fastest Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball this season.
Mizzou Arena was packed for last season’s game against Kansas. Photo by Shane Epping.
Mizzou forward DeMarre Carroll, healthy and at full strength, has been a force for Tiger opponents to reckon with. Photo by Shane Epping.
The college football season wrapped up Thursday night, so what better way to get in the full swing of things than with conference play in college basketball? The Big 12 season begins Saturday for Mizzou as the Tigers travel to Lincoln, Neb., to play the Huskers.
It’s the beginning of a stretch of games that are more than winnable for a Mizzou team that started the season on a hot streak. With non-conference wins against then-No. 20 USC, Cal and Georgia en route to a 13-2 record so far, the Tigers have put together quality wins on a resume for the NCAA tournament. Even the two losses, to No. 16 Xavier (by four) and Illinois, were not damaging.
But back to the current stretch of games. After Nebraska, Mizzou hosts Colorado and Iowa State, travels to Oklahoma State, hosts Texas Tech and then travels to Kansas State. All six are winnable games for Mizzou, but even with a loss in one or two, the Tigers would be in great tournament shape, sitting at either 18-3 or 17-4. They would likely get another three wins in the final 10 games, putting them at the 20-win mark, a near lock for making the NCAA Tournament in March.
Senior DeMarre Carroll has been the leading force for Mizzou so far, averaging 16.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. However, fellow senior Leo Lyons hasn’t been far behind, adding 14.7 and 6.3. Matt Lawrence has regained his three-point touch in recent games, which his 41.7 three-point percentage, the highest of his career since a hot start to the 2006-07 season, exemplifies.
The seven newcomers have all filled in admirably, and the team seems to be settling in to roles. Their cohesion has been a key to the early success and should provide stability as the team continues to improve throughout the season.
Mizzou is continuing to gain attention on the national level as a surprise team from the conference, making it into bracket projections on several sites such as ESPN.com. With the team playing for each other at an exciting uptempo pace, coach Mike Anderson could have his first NCAA Tournament-bound team at Mizzou.
- Jan. 10 at Nebraska 1 p.m.
- Jan. 14 Colorado 8 p.m.
- Jan. 17 Iowa State 12:30 p.m.
- Jan. 21 at Oklahoma State 8 p.m.
- Jan. 24 Texas Tech 12:30 p.m.
- Jan. 28 at Kansas State 8 p.m.
- Jan. 31 No. 23 Baylor 5 p.m.
- Feb. 4 at No. 7 Texas 8:30 p.m.
- Feb. 7 at Iowa State 5 p.m.
- Feb. 9 Kansas 8 p.m.
- Feb. 14 Nebraska 12:30 p.m.
- Feb. 21 at Colorado 12:30 p.m.
- Feb. 25 Kansas State 8 p.m.
- March 1 at Kansas 1 p.m.
- March 4 No. 6 Oklahoma 8 p.m.
- March 7 at Texas A&M 1 p.m.
- Oklahoma: 14-1
- Texas A&M: 14-1
- Missouri: 13-2
- Baylor: 12-2
- Kansas: 11-3
- Kansas State: 11-3
- Oklahoma State: 11-3
- Texas: 11-3
- Nebraska: 10-3
- Iowa State: 11-4
- Texas Tech: 10-5
- Colorado: 8-6
Associated Press Rankings
- No. 6 Oklahoma
- No. 7 Texas
- No. 23 Baylor
- No. 12 Oklahoma
- No. 17 Texas
- No. 29 Oklahoma St.
- No. 51 Texas A&M
- No. 56 Missouri
- No. 58 Baylor
- No. 59 Kansas
- No. 91 Kansas St.
- No. 96 Texas Tech
- No. 120 Iowa St.
- No. 124 Nebraska
- No. 248 Colorado
- Scoring: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, 22.1
- Rebounding: Griffin, 14.0
- Assists: Curtis Jerrells, Baylor, 6.2
- Blocks: Cole Aldrich, Kansas, 2.8
- Steals: Byron Eaton, Oklahoma State, 2.6
Story by Ryan Gavin
They’re back! The Mizzou men’s basketball team returned to the rankings this week, coming in at No. 25 in this week’s Associated Press poll.
The Tigers, now 9-1, haven’t been ranked since Jan. 3, 2004. This season Mizzou has won seven consecutive games, and the team heads into Tuesday night’s Braggin’ Rights game against Illinois (10-1) on a wave of momentum.
En route to the current record, Mizzou beat traditional powers Cal and then-No. 19 USC. The only loss came at the hands of No. 14 Xavier.
The Tigers return home Dec. 27 to face SIU Edwardsville at 4 p.m. Parking is free for all games during the winter break.