(Author's Note: I know dcrockett17 normally does the postgame postmortem, but I needed to write about this game. Not trying to step on his toes, as I hope he has his own thoughts to add later.)
As I sit and write this, it’s been about two hours since Phil Pressey’s desperation three pointer clanged off the back of the rim and the Tigers fell to the Spartans, 86-84.
No, not the Michigan State Spartans but rather the Norfolk State Spartans.
Not exactly the Spartans I think most Tigers fans expected to be defeated by.
I’m numb. There really isn’t any way to describe the feeling. Simply numb as I sit here at home, trying to eat dinner and process exactly where everything went wrong.
When Missouri shoots 53 percent from the field, 45 percent from three and makes 13 three pointers, I just expect them to win. At least, I expect this team to win.
But when the other team plays out of its mind, making twice as many three pointers in this game than they averaged during the regular season, shoots 54 percent from the field and over 50 percent from three, it’s hard.
I kept waiting for Mizzou to make a run in the second half, one of those 12-0 or 17-2 knockdowns that would allow the Tigers to assert control.
But the run never came.
This team had a weakness in that it was small and thin, but had still managed to win 30 games. They got pounded on the glass tonight, achieving a rebounding deficit of 12. Mizzou also didn’t force turnovers in the open court, only tallying 11.
And with all of that, all of those problems…they still had a chance.
After Norfolk State came in, fought their asses off and went toe to toe without backing down for 39 minutes and 58 seconds, Mizzou still had a chance.
The shot just didn’t go down.
It simply didn’t go down.
Norfolk State played as perfect a game as a college basketball team can play. They were composed, focused, hustled and were tenacious.
And while Mizzou played well on offense, it just wasn’t enough.
That’s what makes this one hurt for me. I have no idea what else this team could have done except make a couple more shots. Kim English going 1-7 from the field and missing every three pointer (0-5) did not help the cause, but he did yeoman’s all season, playing out of position at the power forward spot.
It’s a part of sports, I guess, this frustration I feel. And given that college basketball was the sport that I was raised on, and was the sport I was on the beat on for Mizzou when I was in college, it sticks with me more.
I’m superstitious when it comes to sports, and I do believe in karma and balance and all of that jazz. It’s irrational, I guess, but again, it’s sports. So I think a large part of me wanted to believe that even though lots of folks were hopping on the bandwagon, it wouldn’t matter. After all, Mizzou has had good to great teams in the past that were supposed to go far in the tournament only to get derailed.
So naturally, the team that would break through and give this school its first Final Four would be the one that was too small and too thin. I mean, it just seemed right.
But COTG struck in the form of a team from the MEAC, and Mizzou finds itself not only near the top of the list of schools to never make a Final Four, but also now appears on the short list of biggest upsets in the NCAA tournament.
Forget Tyus Edney. Kyle O’Quinn will now haunt my dreams in perpetuity.