Tigers win Big 12 crown before hitting road

March 11, 2012


— It seemed as if everybody was rooting against Missouri, the school that nearly brought the Big 12 to ruin, and you can be sure coach Frank Haith and the rest of the Tigers heard them.

They made sure to leave a lasting impression on their way to the SEC.

Kim English capped a phenomenal conference tournament with 19 points, Phil Pressey added 15 points and eight assists, and the fifth-ranked Tigers beat No. 12 Baylor, 90-75, on Saturday night to win their second championship in the past four years.

“Obviously, it’s special. To win championships is just special,” Haith said. “We didn’t win the regular-season championship, but we won a conference tournament championship.”

English wound up 29-of-40 from the field in a virtuoso performance in Kansas City and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Michael Dixon added 17 points for the Tigers (30-4), while Ricardo Ratliffe and Marcus Denmon finished with 15 each.

“Kim’s play was unbelievable all weekend,” Denmon said. “He really carried us.”

Missouri’s decision to leave for the Southeastern Conference after this season drew outrage from fans of opposing teams, and all the fans from nine other schools that flocked to the Sprint Center seemed to be rooting hard against the school from just down Interstate 70.

Thousands of fans clad in black and gold in turn booed interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas when he gave away the trophy, and chants of “SEC! SEC!” arose in the closing minutes.

“There were roughly 18,000 people here — it was packed. I would suggest 17,000 of those people were in black and gold,” Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said. “So to suggest that Kansas City, Mo., is a Mizzou town, I can assure you, it absolutely was proof positive today.”

Perry Jones III led Baylor (27-7) with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Brady Heslip scored 14 and Deuce Bello came off the bench to add 13 for the Bears, who were again turned away one win short of their first conference tournament title since 1950.

The Bears also lost to Missouri in the 2009 Big 12 title game.

“The biggest thing we haven’t talked about is their experience, five seniors,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “They’ve been through situations like this.”

The two teams waged two memorable games during the regular season, Missouri coming out on top both times. The first was an 89-88 victory in Waco in January, when the Tigers made 10 free throws in the closing minute to hold off a furious rally. The second was a 15-point victory in Columbia, a game that was nip-and-tuck until the Tigers went on a second-half charge.

This one wound up being a bit more like the second meeting.

The teams traded blows throughout the first half — Denmon or English would knock down a 3-pointer, Jones or Quincy Miller would find a way to work inside for a matching bucket. The lead never reached double figures even though Missouri threatened it a couple times.

It wasn’t until the final minutes before the half, when Denmon knocked down a jumper and Pressey made two foul shots, that Missouri had some breathing room.

That was part of a 16-5 thrust that spanned the break and gave the Tigers a 57-42 lead, their biggest of the game, and forced Baylor coach Scott Drew to use all but one of his timeouts.

Quincy Acy, playing in his school-record 135th game, finally got on the board with a pair of free throws as Baylor began cutting into the lead.

Two more foul shots by A.J. Walton nipped it back to single digits, and later in the half, an alley-oop jam by Jones off a half-court feed from Pierre Jackson got Baylor within 64-56.

“We just had to get stops,” Acy said. “That’s pretty much the whole game. We had to get stops and we had to convert easies. That’s it.”

Instead, Missouri seemed to keep finding answers.

Dixon hit a jumper after Perry’s rim-rattling dunk, and English knocked down a three-pointer moments later to restore a double-digit cushion, the swagger-filled junior guard sticking out his tongue and giving a “so-what?” shoulder shrug as he headed back to play defense.

The Tigers continued to pour it on. Pressey hit a three-pointer from about 6 feet beyond the arc, and English followed with another from the exact same spot. This time, he exhorted a partisan crowd packed inside the Sprint Center to rise to its feet with a chant of “M-I-Z, Z-O-U!”

Baylor went on one more spirited run, closing within 77-72 after a 10-2 spurt, but the salty Tigers took care of things from the foul line. They made 10 straight at one point in the closing minutes, putting a tidy bow on one final Big 12 championship.

“The Big 12 has been a phenomenal league and it will continue to be a phenomenal league,” Alden said. “You want to have opportunities, but we never would have had a chance like this if it wasn’t for the Big 12. So for us, going forward, it’s something that we are just appreciative of the opportunity to be associated with a great league.”


FlintlockRifle 3 years, 8 months ago

Dang, I sure will miss this bunch of --------------

tanaumaga 3 years, 8 months ago

They can't even spell Missouri correctly.

OutlawJHawk 3 years, 8 months ago

The slavers and their confederate flag. Too funny...

plynn 3 years, 8 months ago

I used to defend KU and tell people it was a great university with a great basketball program, but now I see you people have no class. I guess you all take your cues from that total jerk, Bill Self. Is KCMo really a KU/K-State city, coach? Really? We would have whipped your butts in the final, if only you could have beaten Baylor. And by the way, the Big 12 refs stole the MU/KU game in Lawrence for KU. Couldn't let MU share the regular season title in their last year. Go Mizzou!

CHEEZIT 3 years, 8 months ago

Didn't we win the league by 2 games?Hmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 8 months ago

Sour grapes from sour people. Missouri fans always have excuses. This time it was the referee. The truth is that bad calls go both directions. Over the course of a game, they tend to even out. I remember TRob getting called for a foul early in the game that the commentators didn't think he committed. You could just as easily admit that the last shot taken 1 second earlier would have won the game for Misery. It's just part of the game.

Mizzoufan 3 years, 8 months ago

KU fans have an equal share of excuses when KU loses.

classclown 3 years, 8 months ago

"The two teams waged two memorable games during the regular season, Missouri coming out on top both times."


Apparently it isn't hard to beat the same team three times in a season.I guess that makes Missouri the better team.

doc1 3 years, 8 months ago

The Refs Didn't blow that lead. Losers blame refs, and if you want to get technical about it the bad calls in that trailer park called Columbia hurt KU. Even up.

riverdrifter 3 years, 8 months ago

Hopefully a pyrrhic victory for Misery.

classclown 3 years, 8 months ago

doc1 (anonymous) says…

The Refs Didn't blow that lead. Losers blame refs, and if you want to get technical about it the bad calls in that trailer park called Columbia hurt KU. Even up. March 11, 2012 at 12:20 p.m.


It's always the ref's fault when the Jayhawks lose.

JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 8 months ago

How many times more than Misery has KU won both the regular season title and the conference tournament title? Enough said...

FanFan 3 years, 8 months ago

I think "Rvjayhawk" is a bit confused as to which league, the SEC or the "Big Twelve/Texas" league, is considered more elite/competitive on a national basis. Sorry KU got left out of any decent league, but with only a good basketball team to offer, what did it expect? ""Silly Self" trying to claim KC as Kansas territory...well, MIZZOU proved they own KC. Too bad the Jayhawks are tucking their feathers between their legs by running from MU in non-conference border play, but really cant blame KU. Good luck to KU as it continues to kneel before the Texan altar in future years!

grammaddy 3 years, 8 months ago

Enjoy that trophy. I doubt if they'll see another one any time soon. Mizzou was a big fish in the Big 12's pond, now they are just minnows in the SEC.

JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 8 months ago

My grandaddy used to say, "even a blind flea will find a dog's ass once in a while." In this case, the SEC is the flea and Misery is the dog's ass...

classclown 3 years, 8 months ago

JayhawkFan1985 (anonymous) replies…

How many times more than Misery has KU won both the regular season title and the conference tournament title? Enough said... March 11, 2012 at 8:20 p.m.


What does that have to do with my comment?

plynn 3 years, 8 months ago

Bad calls do tend to even out over the long haul. But they didn't in the MU/KU game in Lawrence. The refs took over the game at the end of regulation to send it into OT, then at the end of OT to give it to KU. They gave KU 33 free throws to MU's 18. And still KU could only win by one. Now granted, KU has done better over the last 100 years, but I thought we were talking about this year. Perhaps you'd rather not. I'm sorry you Kansas fans are so bitter. Maybe you'll have a better season next year with MU gone. Go Tigers!!!!

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