Mizzou Takes Down the Jayhawks

4 02 2012

A picture can say a thousand words. In Frank Haith’s case, it says one: victorious.

Tonight, College GameDay showcased a crucial win for the Missouri Tigers, as they took down the Kansas Jayhawks, 74-71. These Tigers are now tied with Kansas and Baylor for first in the Big XII. They all stand at 8-2 in conference play.

This game can only be described as back-and-forth with neither team ever leading by double-digits. There was constant hustling from both sides since all the players knew this 105-year-old rivalry could be coming to a close soon.

The Tigers showed resilience in the closing minutes of the game. Falling behind by eight late in this battle, the Tigers looked to have lost a grip on this Border Showdown. Kansas had just gone on a 7-1 run with 2:04 remaining to take a 71-63 lead, and the momentum was clearly in the blue and red’s favor. Thomas Robinson’s 25 points and 13 rebounds had a major impact on Kansas’s success in the second half.

As Mizzou has shown all year long, they were not going to accept a loss and move on to the next game. Marcus Denmon took the phrase “put the team on your back” to a new level. He scored nine straight points – an and-one and two contested three pointers – in about a single minute. This gave the Tigers a 72-71 lead with 56 seconds to go.

With solid defense and two clutch free throws from Michael Dixon, Mizzou finished the game on a 11-0 run in the final two minutes to take down the Jayhawks.

The best part of the night might have come when a very focused Denmon stopped the students from rushing the court. He made it clear in his post-game interview that they expected to win today and have much bigger goals in mind. I love this demeanor from Mizzou’s guard and it will surely be invaluable as the year gets closer and closer to March.

Even though Denmon (29 points) stood out from the rest of the streak tonight, this was a team win for these Tigers. Steve Moore and Dixon both drew key charges late in the game that cut two Kansas drives short. Kim English and Dixon provided solid offensive production throughout the night. Everybody played their role and they got the W because of it.

A deep run into April looks to be more and more probable with each game these Tigers play. They truly have something special going on with the way this veteran squad (four seniors in the starting lineup) knows each others strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, the NBA might provide more controlled play than college basketball with more constructed gameplay and set plays being called. They also simply have more developed basketball players. However, this team’s ability to play together is off the charts. I’ve never seen such apparent chemistry in a ball club on any level before.

For the Big XII, This win now sets up an inevitably dramatic finish to the regular season. Mizzou. Baylor. Kansas. These three squads have played great basketball up to this point, and they undoubtedly will continue to moving forward.

I couldn’t be more happy than I am right now to be attending the University of Missouri. The passion from these players, from Frank Haith, and from all the fans on this campus can not be contained. Electric only begins to describe this campus right now. I will remember this game not only because it is my first Border War and possibly my last, but because I just saw one of the best sports games I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime.

Thank you Mizzou.

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