Alright, now we're talking. Everybody has rivals they hate ... but not every program deals with the incredible teases that Mizzou faced in today's two entries.
UCLA 75, Mizzou 74
On February 11, 1995, Mizzou was 18-3, having overcome both the loss of approximately 17 seniors from the immortal 1994 squad and the loss of Kelly Thames to knee injury. And then they completely ran out of steam. They lost four of five to end the regular season and got blown out by Iowa State in the first round of the Big 8 Tournament. They fell from potential Top 3 seed to the eighth seed in the West region, facing a brutal draw. First, they had to get past Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers; if they won, their reward was No. 1 seed UCLA.
With their late swoon, Mizzou was expected to quickly bow out to Indiana in Boise, and they played like it. The Hoosiers went up 14-3, but the Tigers finally found the gear they had left behind a month earlier. They had cut the deficit to five by halftime, went on a 12-2 run to start the second half, and held off the Hoosiers, 65-60.
The hot streak continued when they took a 42-34 lead into halftime against the top-ranked Bruins. An unstructured offense found structure, an undisciplined defense found discipline. UCLA came charging back, but the Tigers matched them, shot for shot. With under 30 seconds remaining, UCLA led by one, but freshman point guard Kendrick Moore calmly worked the shot clock down, penetrated to the free throw line, drew a double-team, and found Julian Winfield for short jumper and a one-point lead. It was a brilliant play, and it could have gone down as one of the biggest in Mizzou history. Only there were 4.8 seconds remaining. I'm not going to bother describing what happened next. You already know.
BOISE, Idaho -- Years from now, a generation of Missouri fans unable to find their car keys will remember where they were when Tyus Edney broke their hearts.
In 4.8 seconds, Edney turned a 74-73 Tiger upset into a 75-74 UCLA victory with his game-winning shot in the second round of the NCAA Tournament West Regional at the Boise State Pavilion.
"That five seconds, it went pretty slow," MU reserve Scott Combs said. "When it went off the backboard, it went even slower. It seemed like it should roll off the rim."
But it didn't.
Matt Painter to Mizzou
It takes a particularly vengeful, creative sports god to pull off what happened to the Missouri fanbase this past March and April. When Mike Anderson left Mizzou for Arkansas, that was nothing. Teams lose coaches all the time. Mizzou had (gasp) actually been rather lucky with this phenomenon over the years, having not lost a coach to another school since Frank Broyles took the same path to Fayetteville 53 years earlier. But the coaching search that followed was particularly unique.
Almost immediately after Anderson left, there were rumbles. Matt Painter might be interested in leaving his alma mater for Columbia. "Yeah, right," Mizzou fans said in unison. No fan believed it was a possibility. None. But that's where the Sports God got creative. He (or She, I guess) took something no Mizzou fan believed would happen, forced them to believe it would happen, then took it away. Mizzou fans went from "No way is he coming," to "Okay, but it's probably not happening," to "Huh, I guess there's a chance this might happen," to "OH MY GOD, IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN?"
Mike Alden and a small entourage went to Florida to meet with Painter, and as they left, the rumors picked up even more steam. The morning of March 30, St. Louis' Bernie Miklasz heard from his sources (the same ones that told him Painter was legitimately interested in leaving) that ... never mind interest, this was all but a sure thing. Painter would be calling Mizzou to accept the job. It was going to happen. Mike Alden had pulled off an absolute coup. Mizzou had lost a good coach and replaced him with a potentially great one. Then KOMU's Eric Blumberg announced that sources had told him this was 100%. It was absolutely happening.
And then an hour later, Painter was announcing he was staying with Purdue. Oof.