2012 wasn't always fun, but it was quite eventful. So let's take a look back, month by month, in a series that involves just about every member of the Rock M masthead.
January 3. Frank Haith's Missouri Tigers move to 14-0 with an 87-49 pasting of Oklahoma at Mizzou Arena. It is a beautiful display of basketball. In my Study Hall piece, I say "This is what Mizzou stats look like when everybody plays well at the same time," and I post this gif just because. It still makes me giggle a year later.
January 4. Robin Pingeton's women's hoops team falls to 10-2 in Waco, getting thumped by 44 points by Baylor, the eventual national champion. The Tigers had gone 10-1 against an incredibly easy non-conference slate, but this is the first of 13 straight losses in Big 12 play.
January 7. The Octagon spells doom for Missouri Basketball's undefeated record. Kansas State takes out Missouri, 75-59 in a game that really isn't as close as the score would indicate. A matchup nightmare for Mizzou, the Wildcats crush the Tigers on the boards, shoot uncharacteristically well (which always seemed to happen when Mizzou visited Manhattan), build a 19-point halftime lead and coast.
January 8. It's a busy day all around, as Mizzou's wrestling and gymnastics teams are busy beating Iowa State, and Mizzou Football officially flips former Arizona State commit Russell Hansbrough. A running back from Texas who will play as a true freshman in the fall, Hansbrough commits to Mizzou on the Sunday following his official visit to Columbia. Meanwhile, in the gymnasts' first meet of the season, freshman Rachel Updike introduces herself with three event titles. Her emergence turns a rebuilding year into a rock solid one for Rob Drass' squad.
January 11. Against an Iowa State team that is beginning to improve rapidly, Mizzou Hoops survives its final (for now, anyway) trip to Hilton Coliseum.
Mizzou was in foul trouble, Royce White was asserting himself, and Iowa State was making stupid, "only on the road" shots like Scotty Christopherson's 60-footer at the end of the first half and a 30-foot end-of-shot-clock prayer in the second half. The crowd was into it, ISU had rendered Marcus Denmon invisible, and with 11 minutes left, the odds seemed stacked against Mizzou. (To that point, no ISU fans had any reason to throw bottles/chew at Mizzou players.)
Against a hot ISU offense and a hotter crowd, Mizzou did the one thing they could do to win: score on (almost) every possession. Over a six-minute span from the 11-minute mark to the five-minute mark, Mizzou scored on eight of ten possessions. Despite ISU doing well offensively, Mizzou's lead expanded from 49-48 to 66-58. After a mini-drought (a turnover by Matt Pressey, an offensive foul by Ricardo Ratliffe and a missed 3-pointer by Mike Dixon), Mizzou scored on each of its final five possessions. ISU elected not to foul, hoping instead to stop Mizzou with their defense; they could not. Kim English made a clutch jumper with 2:18 left, Ricardo Ratliffe made a gorgeous turnaround with 1:21 left, Phil Pressey milked the shot-clock then found Ratliffe with a no-look pass for an easy layup (a repeat of the Illinois game), and Marcus Denmon made four free throws. Ballgame.
January 14. Though the No. 9 Mizzou Wrestling sees an end to its seven-dual winning streak with a loss to No. 22 Kent State, Mizzou Hoops finishes off Texas at home, 84-73. What say you, Dr. Soyoye?
January 16. Now No. 5 in the country, Mizzou hoops puts an MLK Day drubbing on Texas A&M, beating the Aggies by 19 and ending a years-long losing streak their now-SEC mates.
January 19. Oklahoma receiver Levi Copelin joins the list of Mizzou football commits. He will redshirt in the fall, making waves mostly by getting arrested for marijuana possession with, among others, Dorial Green-Beckham.
January 21. The hoops team passes yet another test, outlasting No. 3 Baylor, 89-88, in Waco. The win moves Mizzou to 3-2 all-time in Top 5 vs Top 5 matchups, and when the new polls come out on Monday, Mizzou will be ranked second in the country. The Tigers win this game like they won many in 2011-12: with a crippling, brief surge.
With 9:42 left in yesterday's game, it looked like Mizzou had potentially blown an opportunity. Baylor had endured a stretch that saw them score on just four of 12 possessions, and following a technical foul on Baylor coach Scott Drew, the Bears had minimized damage by forcing a turnover and getting a layup from Quincy Acy. Mizzou called a 30-second timeout, up just 60-58. And then they went out and won the game.
9:35 - dunk by Ricardo Ratliffe (assist: Phil Pressey) (62-58)
9:16 - steal by Phil Pressey
8:58 - two free throws by Ricardo Ratliffe (64-58)
8:45 - steal by Phil Pressey
8:42 - layup by Phil Pressey (66-58)
8:27 - timeout by Baylor
8:17 - steal by Phil Pressey
7:59 - layup by Ricardo Ratliffe (assist: Phil Pressey) (68-58)
January 25. Mizzou will be at No. 2 for just one week. For the second straight year, a trip to Stillwater ends in on-court disaster as Mizzou falls to a mediocre Oklahoma State team, 79-72. OSU's Le'Bryan Nash does a perfect Clarence Gilbert impression, briefly losing his mind from 3-point range and pacing the Cowboys to an upset win that leads me to simply say that sports are stupid sometimes.
January 28. They don't look good doing it, but a hungover Mizzou hoops team does manage to bounce back from the upset loss with a 63-50 win over a bad Texas Tech team. The Tigers will finish the month 19-2 and No. 4 in the country.
January 29. Gary Pinkel and company score two late commits: former Syracuse commit Harold Brantley (a defensive tackle) and former Arkansas commit John Gibson (a cornerback). Both look good in fall camp but redshirt ... and the emergence of both in 2013 spring ball practice would be very, very welcome at two thin positions.
January 30. A relatively positive month of recruiting ends on a sour note: longtime Mizzou commit Simon Goines decides to instead sign with UCLA, where he will be an immediate starter for the Pac-12 South champions. That decommitment will be costly for the Tigers, but nobody really notices. Mizzou's 2012 recruiting class boils down to obtaining the services of one particular player from Springfield who will be announcing his intentions at a signing ceremony on February 1.
In all, January was a solid month for Missouri. The hoops team kept winning (for the most part) and scored a defining win at Waco, the gymnastics and wrestling teams both looked pretty solid, and the football team landed a few interesting, late recruits. But January was only setting the table for February, which would turn out to be the best month of the 2012 calendar year for Mizzou fans.