Missouri States Its Case For A #1 Seed With Big 12 Tournament WinPosted by Brian Goodman on March 11th, 2012
Missouri 90, Baylor 75
An underwhelming non-conference schedule strength could keep the Tigers out of the hunt for a #1 seed, but Missouri may have changed the selection committee’s outlook with a 90-75 win over Baylor in its last game as members of the Big 12. After a hallmark performance by his team’s heralded guard-heavy rotation on both ends of the court, the Tigers started chanting “one seed, one seed” in the postgame celebration. Senior guard Kim English openly lobbied (albeit misguidedly) to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi in the postgame presser, pleading: “If you’re watching, look out for us.” Missouri head coach Frank Haith took on a calmer demeanor. “We’re happy that we’ve had a great regular season and (won) a Big 12 Championship, but that stuff will work itself out.”
Their next stop is out of their hands, but the Tigers can take solace in the fact that they did everything in their power to get to the top of their region this weekend, beating Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor in three consecutive days. English went a masterful 29-40 from the floor in the conference tournament, including 8-12 from the three-point line to take home Most Outstanding Player honors. The Missouri rotation may be thin, but it was potent Saturday night, with all five starters scoring at least 15 points and Michael Dixon adding 17 from the bench. The Tigers closed out the final seconds with Missouri fans chanting “S-E-C! S-E-C!,” taking pride in the team’s departure from the Big 12, though not without some hardware.
Every time Baylor made a run, Missouri had an answer, whether the offense came from the field or the foul line. After the Bears cut a 14-point lead down to five, the Tigers slammed the door by hitting 11 of 12 free throws in the final 2:12. Following the game, Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy made multiple references to the Bears’ inability to get stops all game long, but especially in the second half, which head coach Scott Drew reinforced succinctly: “I thought we defended and rebounded in… the first two games. Today, we didn’t.”
Baylor came up short, but still made a statement in beating two of the three de facto home teams at Sprint Center. After going 0-4 against Kansas and Missouri in the regular season, Drew felt his team matured, despite the loss in the final. “I thought we grew up, but this was the next stage. And the next stage is handling success and bouncing to the next level.” Drew remained confident that the experience will pay dividends if the Bears are matched up against another guard-oriented team. While Baylor took a step forward, playing great basketball in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, the jury is still out on whether it can be trusted in big games.