Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84: Unconscious Spartans Eliminate Tigers

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 16: Matt Pressey #3 of the Missouri Tigers drives against the Norfolk State Spartans during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 16, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

We've said for a while now that if Mizzou had a fatal flaw, it was quite possibly not rebounding or depth issues, but perimeter defense. Sure enough, poor perimeter defense ended Mizzou's season today, quite a few rounds before everybody hoped. Norfolk State made some open looks early, got confident enough to make some well-covered looks in the middle of the game, and just kept right on making them late. Missouri came back from a six-point deficit in the final two minutes, but when Kyle O'Quinn put back an airballed jumper and got fouled with about 35 seconds left, Norfolk State had a lead they wouldn't relinquish. A few free throws, an odd inbounds play, and a missed buzzer-beater from Phil Pressey later, Mizzou's season was over.

Mizzou's offense was as good as normal for much of the game, but they just had no answer for a ridiculously confident Norfolk State squad. A crowd full of Kansas fans (in the arena for their game tonight) helped turn it into a veritable home game for NSU, and it carried them to a monumental upset. Marcus Denmon, Mike Dixon and Phil Pressey were all excellent on the offensive end -- 62 combined points, 12 3-pointers, double-digit assists -- but they made some mistakes late, their perimeter defense was as culpable as anybody else's, and ... let's just say that Kim English picked a bad time to have an absolutely horrendous game (two points on 1-for-7 shooting). And that's all it takes for your season to end in the Round of 64.

More later. For now ... yeah. I said this morning that the NCAA Tournament is cruel. We didn't need reaffirmation of that, but we got it. Time to sit around and sigh for a while.

(If you're just in the mood to throw things and vent, go here.)

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