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Saturday, March 14, 2009

No. 14 Mizzou beats Baylor for first Big 12 title

Missouri’s DeMarre Carroll (1) runs through the confetti after Missouri defeated Baylor in the Big 12 tournament championship game. The Tigers won, 73-60, Saturday in Oklahoma City to claim their first conference championship in 16 years.

Missouri’s DeMarre Carroll (1) runs through the confetti after Missouri defeated Baylor in the Big 12 tournament championship game. The Tigers won, 73-60, Saturday in Oklahoma City to claim their first conference championship in 16 years.

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Donna McWilliam/AP Photo

Baylor’s Kevin Rogers covers his face as he leaves the court after the loss to MU.

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Missouri coach Mike Anderson holds up the Big 12 championship trophy after defeating Baylor 73-60 in the Big 12 Conference men's tournament championship game in Oklahoma City, Saturday, March 14, 2009.

— DeMarre Carroll could only shake his head and listen to his teammates laugh as he finished chronicling what he’d been through in two years at Missouri.

Seated alongside the uncle who also happened to be his head coach and wearing a Big 12 championship cap and T-shirt, his journey seemed just a little bit wild.

“Once I transferred here, everything started going wrong. I was just looking around like, ‘Man, what did I get myself into?’ But my uncle told me just keep having faith and the sun will come up at the end,” Carroll said.

“I got shot, we lost a lot of games, and so on. But look at me now. I’m standing here smiling and I’m a Big 12 champion.”

Carroll scored 20 points as the 14th-ranked Tigers ended Baylor’s surprising run through the Big 12 tournament, grinding down the Bears, 73-60, to win their first postseason conference title in 16 years.

Not since 1993, when longtime coach Norm Stewart guided Mizzou to the last of four Big Eight titles in seven years, had the Tigers emerged victorious in a conference tournament.

But times have changed quickly. In fact, the Tigers are all about doing things fast with coach Mike Anderson’s brand of the “fastest 40 minutes in basketball.”

The Tigers (28-6) are bound for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003 and leaving far behind the days of NCAA violations, off-the-court incidents and empty postseasons that had spoiled recent seasons.

Carroll himself got caught up in one of those bad situations. He was trying to break up a fight when he got shot in the ankle at a downtown nightclub in July 2007.

“We had some storms. We had a lot of storms. And of course, he was involved in some of those,” said Anderson, who is Carroll’s uncle. “ ... I always tell guys, ‘Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.’

“That’s how I look at myself and life. You’ve got to persevere. You’ve got to have faith. ... I think you’ve got to go through some things in order to get where you want to go.”

For Missouri, the last step to the championship was against a Baylor team trying to become the first to win four games in as many days to claim the Big 12 title. But after a string of three straight upsets that included a quarterfinal stunner against No. 11 Kansas, the three-time defending tournament champion and top seed, the ninth-seeded Bears (20-14) finally ran out of gas.

Matt Lawrence hit a three-pointer and a layup on back-to-back possessions as Missouri pushed its lead to 46-35 with a run of seven straight points early in the second half, and he had another three after the Bears had gotten back within single digits.

Baylor made a brief comeback bid with a run of six straight points to get within 51-46 on Kevin Rogers’ basket from the left block with 11:38 remaining, but he missed the chance to make it a three-point play and the Tigers then snuffed out the rally with an 8-0 run including a basket inside and a three-pointer from Carroll. The lead eventually grew to as many as 15.

“We don’t mind playing fast, but our advantage was inside and I don’t know if we had enough in the tank to do that nonstop,” said Bears coach Scott Drew, whose team was only the third in the tournament’s 13 years to win three games in three days to get to the title game. Missouri did it in 1997 and 2003.

Curtis Jerrells led Baylor with 16 points, Henry Dugat added 12, and LaceDarius Dunn had 11.

With 12 wins more than last season, the Tigers have matched the biggest turnaround in school history with a frenetic, pressing style that wears down even opponents that haven’t played the day before — much less three in a row.

That made Baylor’s task that much more difficult.

“When you play a team that plays as many as they rotate, they’re always going to be fresh,” Drew said. “The second thing is they played one day less, and the other thing with that is their style. ... We really tried to slow it down more, but when you’re getting hounded and someone’s swinging at you, you have two options: duck or hit. Both of them are actions.”

Tigers fans started chanting “M-I-Z! Z-O-U!” as Lawrence stepped to the line in the final minute to help Missouri close it out.

“Four games in four days. I thought it took its toll,” Anderson said as a rainbow of confetti flowed through the arena and the Tigers celebrated at center court. “And our Tigers rose to the occasion.”

Comments

MrPilot 10 years, 10 months ago

It hurts me deep down into my soul to see that trophy go to a school with no class or tradition. A very dark day in the Big 12. May God forgive us.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 10 months ago

It will give them something to comfort them after their first round NCAA loss.

Brandon Winkler 10 years, 10 months ago

nobody will remember who won the conference tourney come April...its about REAL CHAMPIONS...and that mizzou will NEVER experience

kranny 10 years, 10 months ago

I'll probably get crucified for this comment, but I'm actually glad that Missouri won and that they are starting to become "real" again. This gives the Jayhawks two good tough conference games every year now. Let's face it, we've owned these guys since the 90's and had to look to the south to give the Hawks good competition to prepare for NCAA tourney. I'm tired of hearing the "unfair advantage" spin from the south division because KU only plays south teams once a year in the regular season. It's nice to see two North teams take the regular season title and the Big 12 tourney title. Congrats to the Tigers, enjoy it while you have it because next time...........

KUballer 10 years, 10 months ago

There goes any hope of KU playing in KC...

hawkitup 10 years, 10 months ago

Can't say I was happy to see Mizzou when the conference championship, but I was happy for Mike Anderson considering all he's been through there. I really do think he is a good coach.

HawkSC 10 years, 10 months ago

Congratulations Mike Anderson & Missouri. A good Missouri team will only improve the Big 12.

And I've been a KU fan since Jo Jo White was in Lawrence.

RCJHKU

lance1jhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

With the clock running down and Missouri about to win, I all of a sudden felt very ill.

There has been a great disturbance in the force... This can not be tolerated.

The forseable future has Mizzery wallowing in the lower half the league.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

mizzou caught just about every break imaginable to win the tourney:

1) Tech knocks off A&M, so mizzou gets to face one of the worst teams in the Big 12 who has been hot for several games and is bound to cool off. And, of course, they do.
2) Oklahoma falls.
3) mizzou faces Oklahoma St who is on their 3rd game in 3 days.
4) Byron Eaton goes down with an ankle injury in the first half and is rendered almost totally ineffective for the rest of the game, scoring 4 points and earning 3 assists against 8 tournovers. 5) Oklahoma State is ice cold missing their first 14 three-point attempts. Yeah... that was 0 for 14. That's rather bad. 6) Kansas falls. 7) Texas falls. 8) mizzou gets to face a Baylor team who is playing their 4th game in 4 days, and no team in Big 12 tourney history has won having to play 4 days. 9) Baylor, worn out from the 3 previous games, shoots 25% from 3

That's a lot of freakin' breaks.

But whatever. It's Selection Sunday.

Rock Chalk.

bringheatwavewheat 10 years, 10 months ago

good post LA...

I hate the headline..I know I'm being picky, but I think KU actually won the Big 12 title. MU just happened to win the pointless tourney they play at the end. Don't get me wrong, I've loved it every year KU had won it, but it still is rather silly compared to the 16 game conference schedule and the big dance.

rockchalk79 10 years, 10 months ago

I am actually glad MU won this. I makes our routing of them that much more impressive. I think it is great that at least one of the stronger teams in the B12 was able to win the tournament.

I don't like MU but I do like a competitive Big 12.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

You know what doesn't make our route look that much better?

Losing to Baylor.

sports_fiend 10 years, 10 months ago

To LAJayhawk:

"mizzou caught just about every break imaginable to win the tourney:"

While some of them are point blank and accurate, I disagree with a few of your "breaks" as you put them. Yes, it is unfortunate that 3 of the 4 top seeded teams in the Big XII were knocked off it the first round and provided an "easier road" as you will. The OSU game: yes, they started off bad, but so did mizzou. There were A LOT of missed shots on both sides. And yes, it was unfortunate that Eaton was injured early on. He did come in to play the ENTIRE second half. Sure he may not have been 100%, but if he was seriously injured, he wouldn't be in the game. He was able to drive into the paint against mizzou and draw several fouls (despite the fact he was unable to finish the layups on most attempts). He was at the line 3 times in the last 10 minutes alone. Also, it was not just OSU that was shooting terrible from beyond the arc or in general at all... over the course of the game, both teams shot for a combined 10 of 55 from beyond the arc. Matt Lawrence started off 0 of 5, not his typical self. Mizzou started off 2-17 in shots. So BOTH teams started off terrible. The Baylor/Mizzou game: Again, both teams started off bad. It was mizzou in the end that wanted it more and yes, wore down the Baylor team. Part of it is due to Mike Anderson's "40 minutes of hell" game play. The bears tried to slow down the momentum, but couldn't.

I'm glad that mizzou finally has a team to compete. It makes the Big XII a little more respectable, especially the Big XII North, as the south claim to have the better teams. Much respect is to be given to Coach Mike Anderson and what he has done with the tigers. His fast-paced 40 minutes and constant rotations keeps the team fresh and able to keep the upbeat tempo. They do have a better team this year. They were in a rut and I look forward to what they can bring in the near future. It's just not as good when one team is getting destroyed.

Congratulations to Mizzou on winning the Big XII championship. It's their first. Let them enjoy it. Kansas still took the conference. We both got placed in a third seed spot. It will be interesting to see which teams from the Big XII advance the furthest...

rockingthechalk 10 years, 10 months ago

LAJayhawk is absolutely right. Mizzouri caught every break out there. Quit trying to qualify MU's wins, sports_fiend.

OSU played with a hurt Eaton, and that is as huge an issue as a team can have. He scored 4 points and had 8 turnovers. That is WAY out of character. He wasn't 100%... he wasn't even close. And playing the second half didn't help OSU; in fact, looking at what he did with the injured ankle, it hurt them. And OSU didn't just "miss some shots." O for 14 is absolutely atrocious. I don't care how Mizzouri shot, that's just bad. Plus, why would MU shooting terrible be an excuse for not catching breaks? That's just Mizzouri attempting to choke. Unfortunately, OSU wouldn't let them.

And Baylor played 4 games straight. Try it sometime before saying "It was mizzou in the end that wanted it more." A win was Baylor's only chance to get into the tourney, don't try to say they didn't want it. They had nothing left in the tank. And that had nothing to do with the "40 minutes of weak full court" defense. And once again, why would Mizzou shooting bad be an argument for not catching breaks? They tried to blow it, but weren't successful.

Mizzou caught breaks. And for once in their school's history they didn't choke. No need to qualify that.

It's pretty clear, sports_fiend, that you are a mizzou fan, and not because you are defending them. Because of how you are defending them. You were insulted that LAJayhawk called it right. It is good for the league to have a decent Missouri team, but there's nothing wrong with saying they caught some breaks. They did. Clearly.

sports_fiend 10 years, 10 months ago

rockingthechalk, I was not saying that no breaks were had and was not defending mizzou. I am a sports fan in general and like watching a good, solid game. I find it absolutely hysterical that people get on these posts and bash the other teams. I post similar statements on mizzou's site defending kansas when smack is talked. I support the Big XII as a whole and like to see all team succeed. It's rather comical how people "buy into" the whole "muck fizzou or miz-fku" shirts/chants. People choose a college based on what they want to excel in for their future and maybe a good sports team. Then they jump on the bandwagon and automatically hate the rivals. How many people do you know that went to Kansas to merely be rivals with Mizzou, or vice versa. Not many that I can name. Both teams were good this year and I enjoyed watching many teams excel in the Big XII. I would have found it amazing if Baylor would have won. They were a good team with a great run at the end of the season. Not to mention they would have made Big XII history being the only 9 seed ever to win AND be the only team to win 4 straight for the title.

Congrats to the Big XII on a continually growing conference. I look forward to post season play and what next year has in store.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

sports_fiend,

I was not "bashing" mizzou, just pointing out where I thought they caught some breaks, to which you concede they did. I think rockingthechalk pointed out how they were all valid, so I won't go into that.

I would like to say, however, that I think rivalries are what make sports tick. There's nothing wrong with them; in fact, they are what give the sports world it's life blood. They give us a little extra energy on game day. They are what get us excited. When you have a little "heat" between teams, there is something else added to a game. It's almost indescribable. And to the adult world, that heat is fun.

There is also nothing wrong with giving your rival a little good, old fashion ribbing when it's done maturely. I have some very close friends and some extended family who are mizzou graduates. We constantly email things back and forth about each others schools. Not because we hate each other; rather because it just makes it a little more fun. I've gone into misssouri's football stadium during a mizzou/KU game with the aforementioned extended family, and sat in a missouri section with them (missou grads) and me in my KU blue. Everyone around gave a respectful hard time (for the most part), and it was a blast.

I enjoy all sports, and I love a good game. Sports in general is a passion of mine. I also enjoy rivalries, and I conduct myself as an adult about it. What I don't need, however, is a condescending, pretentious lecture on how to "behave" in the sports world. I'm pretty sure I can decide that for myself. I could dispense my own advice on how to "lighten up" and enjoy the world for what beauty it has to offer, but I'll also keep that to myself. I'm sure the philosophy you choose to live by works for you, and I see no need to assume my stance superior to yours based on a couple of comments on a message board.

But thanks for the message.

sports_fiend 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you on what you said LAJayhawk. Rivalries are fun and can make the game excitable. It's when that level exceeds appropriateness. And I have seen it on both sides. I have actually written two pieces on this topic and got several responses. What I mean by the exceeded level of appropriateness is as follows: in order to write my article, I have gone to many basketball games in which the Big XII teams played: Kansas, Mizzou, Colorado, Texas, Tech, and K-State. I seemed to witness the most hatred between the Kansas and Mizzou folks though. In attending the various games, I went with a few of my colleagues of mine and wore the opposing teams jersey (that of which was the visiting team) to both basketball and football. On both sides, I witnessed a level disgust and hatred which is beyond reasonable. For instance, I witnessed Mizzou fans throw popcorn and a drink on a guy wearing Kansas apparel. This is NOT appropriate. Fun banter is okay, but not when things get physical. I also witnessed the same type of behavior from Kansas fans to people wearing Mizzou apparel. There was a young girl, no older than five sporting a Tiger's shirt with her dad, while the mom wore Kansas attire. A group of Kansas fans harassed the little girl and told her she needed to wear the "right" clothes. They harassed her more than the parents. Again, that is NOT okay. While most people (i.e. young adults and graduates) know how to have a good time with it, it's the current students who need to learn the difference between a healthy rivalry and what is overstepping the bounds.

Just my thoughts... have you witnessed any of the aforementioned acts... from either side?

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