M-I-Z... E-R-Y: Crackers vs Tyus

And now, the basketball portion of your "God, why are we rehashing this?" semifinals.

M-I-Z... E-R-Y FINAL FOUR

No. 1 Flea Kicker vs No. 4 Fifth Down
No. 2 Tyus Edney vs No. 3 Them Crackers Shaking

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.

Joe Walljasper put it best:

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.

The Clemons Calls

Somehow, choking his girlfriend for watching Roots wasn't the worst part, nor was the eventual probation that hit Mizzou long after his departure. Hell, it wasn't even the ATV accident at the school president's house (when he was supposed to be "studying" elsewhere). No, the most embarrassing -- and morbidly entertaining -- part of the whole Ricky Clemons ordeal, from the great promise of Fall 2002 to the eventual resignation of Quin Snyder, had to be the jailhouse tapes.

On the evening of Aug. 1, Ricky Clemons placed a phone call from Boone County Jail to the home of University of Missouri Assistant Athletic Director Ed Stewart. Stewart’s wife, Amy, answered the phone. She said some guests, including the MU president’s wife, were coming over for dinner.

What was the special occasion?

The depositions in Clemons’ assault case against Jessica Bunge had hit the media, and Missouri basketball Coach Quin Snyder and assistant Lane Odom were publicly accused of giving Clemons improper gifts and cash.

"We’re celebrating," Amy Stewart told Clemons. "Celebrating your little ass because it’s all out."

In another phone conversation, she was even more forceful.

"You’re going to take them down. You know that, right?" Amy Stewart told Clemons. "You’re taking them down."

Clemons laughed.

"I’m taking great pleasure," Amy Stewart said. "You’re taking them down."

Clemons’ taped phone conversations from jail, obtained by the Tribune through an open-records request, portray an athletic department and university bitterly divided over the former MU point guard.

...

In the recordings, Amy Stewart related a story, which she attributed to her husband, about the atmosphere at the Hearnes Center at the time.

"Ed come home, every time he come home, he be like, ‘Them crackers shaking. They going crazy. They don’t know what to do. They shaking. They can’t talk to Ricky. They’re like some crackheads running around there,’ " Amy Stewart said.

Them. Crackers. Shaking.

To see where this athletic program has come at this point, despite the losses, despite the turmoil, despite drama too creative for any other school to come up with in the middle of the decade, is so amazing and, quite frankly, heartening. ...  And with all we've been through, I don't think we'll be taking success for granted anytime soon.

Right?

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