Tuesday, March 6, 2007

1993-94 Redux: Missouri 72, Southern Illinois 56

(It’s probably good we haven’t played in Carbondale a while.)

January 4, 1994: Missouri Nears Top 25 Debut

of the Tribune's staff

Norm Stewart doesn't have a vote in any of the various college basketball polls. If he did have a vote, Missouri wouldn't get it.

“Not at this time,” Stewart said yesterday after the Tigers beat Washington 85-71 at the Hearnes Center. “We're way too inconsistent,” Stewart said. “Although there's probably a lot of teams in there that are inconsistent, too.”

Not too surprisingly, Stewart sounds more like a coach than a member of the media. In The Associated Press poll of sportswriters and broadcasters announced today, the Tigers are on standby. They're leading “others receiving votes,” with 75 points, one spot behind No. 25 Marquette.

Missouri picked up 36 points in last week's AP voting, up from six before the Tigers' victory over Illinois on Dec. 22. That left them only three spots out of the rankings.

The Tigers are faring better with the media than Stewart's 34 colleagues empaneled for the CNN-USA Today coaches poll. Missouri now has nine points in that voting and is 14 spots from the Top 25. Missouri was not mentioned in that poll last week.

Late non-start: Kelly Thames, who had started the first eight games of his freshman season, had that streak stopped yesterday.

“Kelly didn't start because he had an ear problem,” Stewart said. “The old ear problem, he couldn't hear.”

What Thames missed in conversation was the right time for a team meeting. “I was late,” he said. “It was just a misunderstanding on my part. I didn't pay attention.

“It's nothing to dwell on.”

It sounded like Thames' absence might be a career first and last.

“That's really unfortunate,” Stewart said. “He might start every game, every game. But you know what, he'll look back, that's the only game he didn't start. His grandkids will say, `Why didn't you start, Grandpa?' He'll say, `Well, I was late.' “

Julian Winfield also suffered from the ear disorder, Stewart said. “They're rooming together,” he said. “I thought they might have had the same strain.”

Three spot: Mark Atkins isn't taking the arrival of new Hearnes Center three-point darling Paul O'Liney like an old dog whose place has been usurped with the arrival of a new puppy.

“It's not like that with our team,” Atkins said. “We don't care who shoots the ball or who scores, and that's good for us because he brings another shooter onto the team and another three-point threat. That's going to make us stronger.

“It just makes me work even harder. I know I can shoot the ball, just like he can shoot the ball. So whoever's in the game at that point in time, put it up.”

O'Liney arrived just last week. Atkins said they have not yet played a game of horse. “We will, though,” he said.

Show-Me the way home: Washington coach Bob Bender was pleased with the response of his two players from Missouri, sophomore Michael McClain and freshman Jamie Booker.

“They handled things well,” Bender said. “Sometimes when you come back home you're excited to play in front of family and let yourself lose a little concentration, and they didn't do that.”

Be true to your school: Bender's game-day attire was a gold sweater and black trousers, appropriate attire for the Hearnes but not usually for the visiting coach. He said he had not planned to wear Missouri's school colors. “Not at all,” he said. “We're purple and gold.”

Ankle waits: Chris Heller and Reggie Smith did not play in hopes to speed the healing of their sprained left ankles. “Chris's ankle is swelling, won't swell, then it swells,” Stewart said. “We want to get him well. Get him well and the same thing with Reggie.

“Reggie's weight is coming down now, and that's good. About a week and maybe he'll be ready to go.”
January 7, 1994: MU Starts Fast, Steps on Gas

of the Tribune's staff

Having done their best work this season with the clock ticking down in tight games, the Missouri Tigers got in early last night.

They chewed up Southern Illinois 72-56, ending the Salukis' 20-game home-court winning streak. The Tigers (9-1) led for the final 32 minutes, 27 seconds.

They became very opportunistic as the first half drew to a close.

After falling behind 26-17, Southern Illinois cut the margin to 29-27 with 1:51 left before halftime. Two Jevon Crudup free throws made it 31-27 with 47 seconds left. Then the Tigers scored five points in the last five seconds.

Melvin Booker drove, dipped and scooped the ball up and off the glass while being fouled by Marcelo daSilva, then converted the free throw for a three-point play.

SIU (6-2) did not inbound the ball within the official's five-second count, thereby giving it back to the Tigers. Mark Atkins rebounded Lamont Frazier's missed three-pointer and put it in with one second left for a 36-27 lead.

Then SIU went stone cold in the second half. They were scoreless for almost four minutes and went without a field goal for nearly six.

“Even when we finally scored, the free throw went round and round,” SIU coach Rich Herrin said. “I thought, `That thing's going to come out, too.' “

Kelly Thames opened the second-half scoring with a jumper just inside the three-point line, giving Missouri a 38-27 lead. The Tigers led by 11 to 17 points the rest of the way.

“Once we got the lead, I thought we really kept them from ever making a real run at us,” Missouri coach Norm Stewart said.

“Defense was solid, and I think that won the ballgame.”

SIU was a dreary seven for 25 from the field in the second half and shot 35.7percent for the game.

Herrin found it harder to accept his team's 21-for-34 free throw night.

In last season's meeting at the Hearnes Center, Missouri made only 19 of 41 free throws but managed to win in double overtime. Jevon Crudup was three for 12 at the line that night.

Last night, Crudup had game highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds and made all four of his free throws as the Tigers hit 70 percent.

“I play my role,” Crudup said. Last night it was starring. He scored 16 points in the first half.

“He's had three ballgames that were really strong, then he had a couple ballgames that were average, for the average guy but not for him,” Stewart said. “I think he's added to his ballgame.

“Obviously he's playing around the basket. We're moving him more than we have.”

Having established the halftime lead, the Tigers stepped up the pressure in the second half.

“We came out very aggressive,” Booker said. “Defense got the offense started.”

Depth helped keep things going.

Reggie Smith led six reserves with 16 minutes.

“We just had to keep running at them,” he said.

“We just kept pushing the ball and playing our style of game. We just got in the flow.”