In this four-part series leading up to Missouri's debut at the Big 12 Championship on Thursday, rptgwb will take a look at some of the smaller moments that played a huge role in shaping Missouri's run through the Big 12. Today, this installment examines one of the biggest moments of one of Missouri's biggest wins, thanks to a limited but inspired performance that very few saw coming.
The Date: March 4, 2009
The Game: Mizzou vs. Oklahoma
The Place: Mizzou Arena
The Result: 73-64 W
The Moment: "Michael Anderson Jr. defensive rebound (18:34), DeMarre Carroll made layup, Michael Anderson Jr. assist (18:21)"
Why it mattered: We all knew coach Mike Anderson loved letting his seniors start on Senior Night. Then again, never before in his tenure did he have a chance to knock off a Top 5 team to complete a perfect home season to worry about.
Nevertheless, Anderson stuck to his convictions, and Coach Mike had the honor of watching Player Mike have his name announced in the starting lineup. If nothing else, the appearance in the starting lineup was going to be an admirable gesture, a bullet that had to be bitten as a way to say thank you for the time Junior had given to the program. Instead, we were all treated to one of the more surprising, inspired five minutes of basketball we've seen from a player all year.
As The Boy noted in the March 5 RMN Weekly Podcast, it seemed like a classic case were Missouri would call a quick timeout to get Mikey off the floor and try to minimize the early damage from Oklahoma. What does Mikey do? He comes out with the fire and intensity you expect from Anderson's players, much less his direct descendants. Mikey got on the stat sheet after collecting a rebound on a missed shot by Austin Johnson and then setting up DeMarre Carroll 13 seconds later to record an assist.
Over the course of the next two minutes, Anderson Jr. may have played a larger role than we realize even today. MA Jr. came up with two steals, both off of mistakes by Oklahoma's sensational freshman Willie Warren. Warren finished with the night with only seven points and a total of four turnovers, perhaps rattled early by the likes of Anderson Jr., Missouri's relentless style of basketball, and a Mizzou Arena crowd that only fueled the intensity.
When it was all said and done, Mikey's one minute of fame turned into five minutes of glory. And, more importantly, it gave Missouri a 13-8 lead at the time of his exit (13-5 before a three-point play from Taylor Griffin). In a game that was about being perfect at home and making a statement after an embarrassing loss a few days earlier, it was not Leo, DeMarre, or J.T. that set the tone. Nope. It was quiet ol' Michael Anderson Jr. enforcing Missouri's will and setting the Tigers on the path to another program-establishing win. Here's to you, Mikey.