Missouri Wins Big 12 Tournament With Win Over Baylor
March 14, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -DeMarre Carroll scored 20 points and No. 14 Missouri 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.
Matt Lawrence added 13 points and his hot shooting helped the third-seeded Tigers (28-6) pull away early in the second half to spoil what would have been an unprecedented run to the title for Baylor.
Baylor made it as far as the finals with a string of three straight upsets that included a quarterfinal stunner against No. 11 Kansas, the three-time defending tournament champion and top seed.
Curtis Jerrells scored 16 to lead the ninth-seeded Bears (20-14), who finally ran out of gas in their bid to become the first Big 12 team to claim the tournament title by winning four games in four days.
Henry Dugat added 12 and LaceDarius Dunn had 11.
Leo Lyons also scored 13 for Missouri, which took home its first conference title of any kind since winning the Big Eight regular-season championship in 1994. The Tigers' last tournament crown was in 1993, with the last of four in a seven-year span.
All 11 of Mizzou's previous conference titles came under longtime coach Norm Stewart.
The Tigers are now in the third year of Mike Anderson's frenetic "fastest 40 minutes in basketball," which 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.
"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."
Lawrence hit a 3-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 3 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 of their own.
Carroll had a basket inside and then hit a 3-pointer from the left wing before Taylor made it 59-46 with a double-clutching floater in the lane and the lead eventually grew to as many as 15.
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.
"We're just getting started," Anderson said in the postgame celebration.
Baylor became only the third team in the tournament's 13 years to win three games in three days to even make it to the title game, joining Missouri's teams from 1997 and 2003. This time, it was the Tigers playing the role of the favorite.
After struggling early against the zone defense that carried Baylor through the first three games, Missouri turned around its seven-point deficit with a 15-1 run keyed by three reserves. Miguel Paul and Kim English knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers for the last off 11 straight points to put the Tigers up four, and English's steal led to a layup by Keith Ramsey for a 27-20 lead.
Baylor answered with a 13-6 spurt to tie it up at 33 on Henry Dugat's three-point play before Missouri scored the final four points of the first half.