KANSAS CITY - The 12-5 upset has become a staple of the NCAA Tournament. In the Big 12 Tournament? Not so much.
Nebraska pushed that mark to 2-11 on Wednedsay, biltzing Missouri and never trailing in a 75-60 upset win. Not only does the loss end Missouri's hopes of a title defense (admittedly slim in the first place), but the manner in which Missouri was so soundly beaten raises a multitude of questions about the Tigers as they await their NCAA Tournament destination.
Before the game, RMN's own Bill C. had this to say:
The only way any of us will remember this game five years from now is if something bad happens.
Set your memories accordingly.
On Twitter, Pat Forde said Missouri was "not talented enough to mail in the effort without getting embarrassed." Missouri simply couldn't afford to play as lifelessly as it did today, as the Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball became the Most Lethargic 40 Minutes in Basketball.
Missouri settled for mid-range jumpers out of the gate, and the Tigers' inability to finish allowed Nebraska to jump out to an 8-2 lead. Before the first media timeout, the Tigers attempted to work their rare size advantage, getting inside buckets from Laurence Bowers and Keith Ramsey.
As has been their modus operandi against Mizzou under coach Doc Sadler, the Huskers proceeded to pack the paint a little bit tighter and force outside shots from the Tigers. As has been the Tigers' modus operandi for most of the Big 12 season, they weren't able to hit those outside shots. After leading 10-8 a little more than four minutes into the game, Nebraska went on a 16-3 run during the next six minutes. Missouri was held without a field goal in that stretch before a Mike Dixon, Jr. 3-pointer ended the drought.
Missouri's difficulty shooting the basketball in the first half wasn't particularly surprising. What was surprising was Nebraska's ability to score on the Tigers. Nebraska, the league's lowest scoring team, scored 39 points in the first half, taking advantage of Missouri's high risk, high reward brand of aggressive defense. Nebraska moved the ball effectively in the offensive end, registering 10 assists on 13 made field goals in taking an 11-point lead into halftime.
Things didn't get much better out of the locker room for Missouri. Nebraska opened the second half with a 7-0 run before Mike Anderson was forced to spend a timeout less than two minutes into the half. A generally pro-Missouri crowd at the Sprint Center tried several times to pull the Tigers out of a funk of general lethargy, but Nebraska was able to consistently respond, nailing timely dagger threes and forcing Kansas City native Dixon to foul out with more than eight minutes left in the game.
Anderson tried to counter with a four-guard lineup in the last 10 minutes of the game but to no avail. Missouri cut the Nebraska lead to 10 with less than four minutes to play, but with the crowd roaring, Brandon Richardson drilled a 3-pointer while being fouled by Zaire Taylor, effectively sealing the victory for the Huskers.
Nebraska shot the lights out on the day, hitting nearly 56 percent of shots from the field, 57 percent of shots from 3-point range, and 19 of 22 free throws.
Nebraska awaits a 2:00 p.m. date with No. 4 Texas A&M tomorrow in a game to be televised on the Big 12 Network. The next stop for Missouri, presumably, is either a 9-seed or 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament.