Friday, March 16, 2007

1993-94 Redux: Missouri 82, Colorado 70

(I love Johnny Orr jabbing at the officiating in this first article. How great was that Big 8 group of coaches?? Norm, Tubbs, Williams, Eddie, Orr, Nee, Altman...such personality there.)

February 7, 1994


After Missouri knocked off third-ranked Kansas a week ago, Jayhawks coach Roy Williams analyzed the Tigers' footing in the conference race.

“They were in a little bit of the driver's seat before that game, and they're really in the driver's seat now,” Williams said.

So where do the Tigers sit now after winning their seventh league game, fourth on the road, 104-94 on Saturday at Oklahoma?

Perhaps they're in the driver's and passenger's seats. But they're certainly not thinking about changing places for a recliner now that they have a two-game lead at the Big Eight midpoint. Coach Norm Stewart won't let them.

“We're in good shape right now in the conference,” Stewart said. “If we stopped at halfway through, we'd have the championship. But we still have seven games left to play.”

Williams said this morning on the Big Eight coaches teleconference, “I think they're really going to have to stumble before anybody else has a chance.”

The makeup of the remaining schedule doesn't hurt Missouri's chances of winning the regular-season championship.

The Tigers' next two games are at home, Wednesday against Colorado and Saturday against Oklahoma State. Then they have three days off before playing at last-place Iowa State, which has lost three of its four home conference games. The Cyclones also don't expect to have leading scorer Loren Meyer, injured last month in a truck-train wreck, back this season.

Missouri tries to break a three-game losing streak at Kansas on Feb. 20 then closes the regular season with three of its last four games at home, including a non-conference date with Southeast Missouri.

MU, which was picked in the media's preseason poll to finish third, has not lost at home this season. The only other times Stewart's teams have started 7-0 -- in 1982 and '90 -- they won the regular-season race.

While a two-game cushion in the standings is not bulletproof, it looks solid to the rest of the league.

Missouri's position “is very firm,” Iowa State coach Johnny Orr this morning. Orr predicted before the season that MU would win the league. “They're playing better than anyone, and they're playing with great confidence.

“The officials now, they're not calling a lot of things, and that's definitely an advantage to Missouri. They're strong.”

Said Kansas State coach Dana Altman: “They're 7-0. I'd have to think they're in great shape. They've playing very well. They're very deep.

“I'd have to say they're in very good shape.”

Missouri's standing is finally being recognized in the CNN/USA Today coaches poll. MU moved from 25th in last week's debut to 16th yesterday, ahead of St. Louis University, which moved from 20th to 18th.

The Associated Press rankings, in which Missouri was 20th last week, were scheduled to be released this afternoon.

Staff writer David Holzman contributed to this report.
February 10, 1994

of the Tribune's staff

The numbers games all favored Missouri, and the Tigers took advantage to beat Colorado 82-70 last night at the Hearnes Center.

While the Buffaloes were statistically comparable, their attempt at an upset of the No. 15 Tigers came no closer than seven points in the second half.

Missouri led 46-32 at halftime and built that to 57-39 with 13:22 left. Then Colorado scored 11 points while the Tigers (17-2, 8-0) went scoreless until Kelly Thames scored two points on a one-and-one trip to the free throw line with 8:15 to play. The freshman forward led Missouri with a career-high 20 points.

“I don't know if we let them back in or if they got themselves back in,” Missouri coach Norm Stewart said.

“You've got to look at Colorado and give them some credit, too, because they just kept coming back in.”

The praise was reciprocated by Colorado coach Joe Harrington who was befuddled as to why MU is not ranked higher.

“They're 8-0 in the Big Eight and ranked 15th in the country, you've got to be kidding me,” Harrington said. “If you go to any other conference in the country, they're 8-0 in the conference, they'd be ranked high. I don't understand that at all.”

But he could pinpoint exact reasons why the Buffaloes (10-10, 2-6) lost for the 21st consecutive year at Missouri.

“They hurt us with easy baskets in transition,” Harrington said. “Our biggest problem was not getting back to defend. Other than that, I thought we played pretty good basketball.”

Although they made seven of 18 three-point attempts, the Tigers concentrated on getting shots close to the basket. Melvin Booker, who scored 19 points, had seven assists. Two gave dunks to Julian Winfield.

“We came out playing pretty good,” Booker said. “Everybody thought we could put this away, just keep playing, but” Colorado “did a good job of coming back.”

The Buffaloes were short of players. Forward Mark Dean, their top rebounder and one of the leaders in the Big Eight, sat out with a knee injury suffered in practice Monday. Center Ted Allen fouled out with 10:08 to play. Allen's substitute, Greg Jensen, committed his fifth with 8:15 left. Forward Sande Golgart did the same with 34 seconds left.

Leading scorer Donnie Boyce finished the game with four fouls. Dean was the only player on the bench who did not foul out.

“If we had to finish with four, that is the way it is,” Harrington said.

Kirk Williams cut the lead to 59-52 with 7:50 left. The Buffaloes weren't really finished until Missouri outscored them 7-0 to take a 76-61 lead with 1:18 left. Thames scored five of the seven. Thames scored 10 of his points in the final nine minutes.

Colorado was especially vulnerable in the middle without Allen and Jensen. “Kelly maneuvers very well, and he got to the bucket on them,” Stewart said.

Boyce, who scored 30 points against the Tigers in Missouri's 80-72 victory at Boulder on Jan. 15, led all scorers with 27 points. His 10-for-25 shooting from the field improved the 39 percent field goal percentage he brought into the game. Boyce scored 20 points in the second half. Allen, who had 14 points in the first half, did not score in the second.

The Buffaloes couldn't catch up when the Tigers stalled.

“We could help ourselves offensively,” Stewart said. “There's no doubt about that. There's no reason for us to go six minutes without scoring. There's no reason to let them back in that far.

“We were on the schneid for about six minutes. We haven't had that for a long time.”

Despite that, the Tigers latched onto a hard eight in the Big Eight race.