They made sure to leave a lasting impression on their way to the
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
"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
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
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.
Instead, Missouri seemed to keep finding answers.
Dixon hit a jumper after Perry's rim-rattling dunk, and English
knocked down a 3-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
The Tigers continued to pour it on. Pressey hit a 3-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
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."