Sunday, March 25, 2007

1993-94 Redux: Missouri 68, Kansas State 57

(Jevon Crudup “unusually strong.” That’s one way to put it. It’s pretty interesting to see Dana Altman and K-State being a huge disappointment at 17-10. Everybody always says that Altman was a ‘clear failure’ at a big-time job, and he should stay at Creighton. Not saying I wanted him at Mizzou, but there’s really nothing too ‘clear’ about his ‘failure’ at K-State considering how far they fell after he left.)

March 2, 1994

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- It's becoming a regular part of Missouri's Big Eight schedule, spending Senior Night at Kansas State. Tonight's game will be the third time in four years that the Tigers are on hand as the departing Wildcats are wished farewell at Bramlage Coliseum.

That occasion, not trying to get in the way of an undefeated Big Eight season for Missouri, will be tonight's main attraction, Kansas State coach Dana Altman said.

“We're just worried about us playing well,” Altman said. “It's our seniors' last game at Bramlage.

“We'll give it our best shot.”

When their shot is on, the Wildcats are very capable. They shot 85 percent in the second half, including a Big Eight-record 16 consecutive field goals, Feb. 19 in an 89-76 victory over Oklahoma.

Saturday at Nebraska brought a return to earth for the Wildcats, the worst-shooting team in the Big Eight. The Wildcats shot 44 percent, better than their average, but the Cornhuskers blazed for 64 percent and an 86-77 victory. It ended a three-game winning streak for the Wildcats (17-9, 4-8).

“We were disappointed with our loss to Nebraska,” Altman said. “I'm not sure if it was them playing awfully well or our defense playing not well at all.”

Whether they do it on offense or defense, the Wildcats' key is keeping the score down to a manageable level. At Bramlage Coliseum, where Missouri is 1-4 and 0-3 when ranked, Kansas State is 9-1 this season when the visitor scores 70 or fewer points.

The Wildcats are 9-1 in games decided by six points or fewer this season and 18-3 the last two years. Kansas State's shooting touch seems to improve markedly when there's a chance to win the game late.

“They're a great defensive team, and their crowd plays a big key because the students are right there on the court,” Missouri senior guard Melvin Booker said.

It would greatly help No. 6 Missouri's pursuit of a 13-0 conference record if the Tigers stay in high gear offensively. The Tigers are coming off a 99-83 victory over Oklahoma and haven't been under 70 points since beating Kansas State 63-43 13 games ago.

“We're getting better offensively,” Missouri coach Norm Stewart said. “I like that.”

Guard Paul O'Liney, who scored 21 points Saturday in his first start, again is expected to play in place of Julian Winfield, out with a sprained ankle.

“They've got a lot of weapons, they've got a lot of depth,” Altman said.

The Tigers are almost to the point where they'll talk about going 14-0. First they want to be 13-0.

They're already Big Eight champions.

“We're real pleased to win the title,” Stewart said. “We've got two games remaining, and we'd like to avoid having a letdown.”

Being a target for teams that could use a huge victory to impress the NCAA Tournament Committee should help. So should Missouri's chance to become only the third undefeated champion in 36 seasons of Big Eight play. Winning tonight or Saturday in the season finale with Nebraska would give Missouri its best Big Eight record ever.

“I guess everybody's thing is they don't want this '93-94 Missouri team being remembered as going 14-0,” Booker said. “I think it's going to be something we're going to really push for.”

Altman, perhaps the most low-key coach in the Big Eight, downplayed the lying-in-wait angle. “I'm sure our crowd will be excited but no more so than for any other Big Eight game,” he said.


MISSOURI (22-2, 12-0)
No. Player Yr. P Ht. Ppg.
15 Melvin Booker Sr. G 6-2 18.0
23 Paul O'Liney Jr. G 6-2 9.2
22 Lamont Frazier Sr. F 6-4 8.2
33 Kelly Thames Fr. F 6-7 11.6
0 Jevon Crudup Sr. C 6-9 13.2

K-STATE (17-9, 4-8)
No. Player Yr. P Ht. Ppg.
23 Anthony Beane Sr. G 5-10 11.0
24 Askla Jones Sr. G 6-5 21.8
44 Belvis Noland Jr. F 6-4 7.8
5 Demond Davis Jr. F 6-4 5.9
32 D. Cunningham Jr. C 6-7 10.4
March 3, 1994

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Running the numbers is simple: 15-2 equals 13.

A 15-2 run to close the first half gave Missouri control of the game, and the Tigers are now 13-0 in Big Eight play with last night's 68-57 victory at Kansas State. Their chance at the first perfect Big Eight record in 23 years comes Saturday when Nebraska visits the Hearnes Center.

On Kansas State's Senior Night, Missouri freshman Kelly Thames made like a big shot, hitting a three-pointer to end the first-half scoring and giving Missouri (23-2, 13-0) a 32-27 lead.

Thames moved outside after hitting his first three shots close to the basket. He was the leading scorer at halftime with 11 points.

It was the first three-point attempt in four games for Thames, who finished with 15 points. He's now two for nine for the season from three-point range.

As was the case with Thames' game-winning basket against Oklahoma State, the ball came from Melvin Booker, not quite according to plan.

“We got kind of confused,” Booker said. “Time was running a little faster than I thought it was, once I looked up.

“They were in some kind of zone. I saw Kelly over there, so I just threw it to him.”

Once the ball went to Thames, everything hit stride. “I was wide open, time was running out, I just shot it,” he said.

That shot was a big plus for Missouri in a first half that looked suitable for the usual K-State upset at Bramlage Coliseum. Three times in the last five years, Missouri had come in ranked in the top seven and lost here.

No. 6 Missouri trailed 25-17 with five minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half last night.

“I think you could say we were flat,” Missouri coach Norm Stewart said. “We were a little flat for a lot of the ballgame. But other times, we really pushed hard defensively.

“I thought the first 16 minutes of the first half we were playing their game. After that, when we started making them guard us a little bit, the game changed.”

The Wildcats (17-10, 4-9) didn't do anything to change their league-low shooting percentage for the better. Senior Askia Jones made nine of 15 shots and scored a game-high 25 points. The rest of the Wildcats could only scratch out 13 field goals in 46 attempts, 28 percent.

Effort made up for some of Kansas State's offensive inefficiency. While the Tigers shot 50 percent for the first time in seven games, the Wildcats came up with 19 more field goal attempts. They made 12 steals and had 11 offensive rebounds, 10 in the first half.

“That first 16 minutes, they got all the loose balls. They had all the hustle plays,” Stewart said.

But once Booker tied the game at 25 with a short jumper 2:06 before halftime, Kansas State never had the lead again. Thames gave Missouri the lead for good with a follow shot with 57 seconds left in the half.

“Kelly's doing some things we didn't do as freshmen,” Booker said. “He's won all his games on the road. It took us three or four years to win at other people's place.”

It wasn't for lack of trying, Kansas State coach Dana Altman said.

“I can't fault our team's effort,” Altman said. “I think we worked hard, and I think we played hard.”

But Missouri proved too hard to guard inside. At 6-foot-7, Thames is as tall as center Deryl Cunningham, K-State's tallest starter. Jevon Crudup led Missouri with 19 points and was the top rebounder with 12.

“They were giving us a lot of opportunities inside, and I tried to capitalize on them,” Crudup said.

“It's nothing to be cocky about, but I thought no one was going to cover me one on one in the paint.”

Cunningham fouled out with 2:21 left.

“Crudup is real strong, unusually strong,” Cunningham said. “He'll nail you with that forearm and make you lose position.”

The Wildcats enlivened the crowd of 12,688 by pulling within 52-47 with 7:25 left. They had been down 48-34. Jones twice got K-State within six points, the last time at 60-54 with 2:01 left. He made three free throws after being fouled by Crudup after launching an errant three-pointer. Missouri then went eight for eight at the free throw line to put away the game.

That put a Big Eight version of perfection just a game away.