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Mizzou 25: Norm Stewart Regional (Quarterfinal #2)

UPDATE: Called after 69 votes. Booker wins 84%-15%.

It's Mizzou 25, the tournament to decide the best, most influential, most likable Mizzou athlete of the past 25 years! It's like Who's Now or The Greatest Highlight, only, uhh, cool.

Mizzou 25 is set up in four 8-athlete regions: the Norm Stewart Region (basketball), the Larry Smith Region (football), the Joann Rutherford Region (all sports), and the Spider Region (fan favorites).

Today, we find ourselves in the Norm Stewart Region for Round One. Here are the matchups.

2/27: Derrick Chievous (1984-88) vs Arthur Johnson (2000-04)
2/28: Melvin Booker (1990-94) vs Jason Sutherland (1993-97)
2/29: Anthony Peeler (1987-91) vs Clarence Gilbert (1998-02)
3/1: Doug Smith (1987-91) vs Kareem Rush (1999-02)

(And my apologies for the gigantic gap between the text and the table below. There's absolutely no reason for that to be happening, but I'm pretty sure it's going to happen for every single one of these I post. Grr.)

Melvin Booker vs Jason Sutherland




90-91: 8.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.2 RPG
91-92: 11.6 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.8 RPG
92-93: 15.8 PPG, 3.7 APG, 4.3 RPG
93-94: 18.1 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.8 RPG
Record: 87-37
NCAA Tourney Wins: 4

93-94: 2.1 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.4 APG
94-95: 8.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.6 APG
95-96: 14.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.6 APG
96-97: 10.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.2 APG
Record: 78-44
NCAA Tourney Wins: 4

Michael Atchison: Little fanfare accompanied Melvin Booker’s arrival in Columbia. Norm Stewart discovered the unassuming point guard from Moss Point, Mississippi, while recruiting a more heralded peer. Good thing he did, because Booker spent the next four years maximizing his ability as well as any player in the Stewart era. A starter as a freshman, Booker deferred to Doug Smith and Anthony Peeler on the court. But he began to come into his own as a sophomore, averaging 11.6 points and 3.9 assists. With Peeler’s departure after the 1991-92 season, Booker assumed leadership of the team. His 15.8 points per game led the club in his All-Big Eight junior season. But it was Booker’s remarkable senior season that sealed his place among Mizzou’s all-time greats. His averages of 18.1 points and 4.5 assists per game do not begin to tell the story. On his way to becoming the Big Eight Player of the Year and a second team All-American, Melvin Booker imposed his will on each game, hitting every clutch shot in a season that saw the Tigers go a perfect 14-0 in the Big Eight and advance to within one game of the Final Four. Though his career began in virtual anonymity, it ended with Booker ranking among the greats in Missouri Tiger history. Michael Atchison: A freshman on the great 1993-94 team, Jason Sutherland introduced himself to Missouri fans by entering the epic contest game against Illinois after four other Tigers had fouled out, and helping Mizzou take a 108-107 victory. A 6’1" guard, Sutherland possessed a warrior’s mentality and an underdeveloped sense of self-preservation through four years that saw him ride the ragged edge between control and chaos. Ultimately, he topped 1,000 points in a Tiger uniform.

The Boy: Jason Sutherland was the crazy cousin about whom you maybe have rolled your eyes and shook your head in private, but you were really, really glad he was on your side. For all intents and purposes, he was Mizzou's Eduardo Najera, Mizzou's Jarrod Haase (except not a complete pansy and waste of space, ahem). Mizzou fans loved him, and opposing fans still despise him. He was a good shooter, but that was about fourth on his list of skills behind elbower, tone-setter, and instigator.

Oh yeah, and he still plays the game exactly as he always has.