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Mizzou Links: Beating Elon, building a bigger (virtual) trophy case for Shane Ray

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Mizzou Hoops survives an Elon comeback attempt, and Shane Ray wins more awards and more awards. And while recruiting rankings are predictive of individual success in the SEC, those rules don't apply to Gary Pinkel signees.

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What's On

Best half of the year, followed by, what, second-worst half of the year (behind Purdue 1H), I guess? Very worst?

Wins are wins are wins

(Which is what we'll say after every single one this year.)

MUTIGERS.COM: Mizzou Men's Basketball Turns Away Elon, 78-73
MUTIGERS.COM: Post Game Quotes

Head Coach Kim Anderson

Opening Statement....

"That was probably the best first half that we have played all year. I felt really good about what we were doing on both ends of the floor, both defensively and offensively. Watching them {Elon} play, I knew they would make a run in the second half. Certainly, they made a big run. I think we had some careless turnovers. I didn't think our shot selection was terrible. Probably the biggest disappointment in the whole game is you look at the rebounding statistics and they have 19 offensive rebounds, so that shouldn't really happen, and it did. They scored some points off of it, but we scored more points than they did on second chance. We won the game. The guys made free throws at the end of the game. We made plays at the end. We executed pretty well with the pressure at the end and just made a couple mistakes. I am happy to win. This will help our confidence."

On learning about team under pressure tonight...

"The bad news is we let them come back, but the good news is we handled the pressure at the end. I would have been surprised, kind of echoing these guys, if we didn't play well. I do agree with what Keith said, I think it was one of the best, or more focused, two or three days of practice that we have had. I am pleased that we did, once we messed it up, we fixed it at the end. We made some free throws. I thought we handled their pressure pretty well. We made a not very over the back play, but this is a team that needed something good to happen. Winning a game is good. I think we can build on the first half and hopefully learn some things and play better on Saturday."

The Trib: Missouri avoids disaster, hangs on against Elon
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou survives scare from Elon
PowerMizzou: Missouri escapes against Elon
The Missourian: Missouri basketball starts off hot, staves off comeback against Elon
KBIA Sports: Big first half gives Missouri a 76-71 win over Elon

The Trib: Tigers attracting sparse crowds to Mizzou Arena

Shane Ray's virtual trophy case is getting awfully full

MUTIGERS.COM: Shane Ray Named 1st-Team All-American
Grantland (Matt Hinton): 2014 College Football Awards: Toasting the Best Coaches, Players, Teams, Moments, Hairstyles, and Much More

Biggest Breakthrough, Individual: Missouri DE Shane Ray

Last year, Ray was the anonymous worker bee in Mizzou’s defensive line rotation, toiling in the shadows of a consensus All-American (Michael Sam), an eventual second-round draft pick (Kony Ealy), and even a fellow backup (Markus Golden) who was subsequently heralded as the Next Big Thing entering 2014. This year, Ray surpassed them all, claiming the school’s single-season sack record and the title of SEC Defensive Player of the Year in his first year as a full-timer. (Golden was also a star, finishing with 16 tackles for loss and a second-team All-SEC nod from league coaches despite being slowed by a bad hamstring.)

If his initial draft prospects are any indication, Ray’s first season as a starter will also be his last. Stars to Stars: the origins of an All-SEC team

That aside, it's very tough to become an All-SEC player unless you're a 3-star recruit or better. Missouri defensive lineman Harold Brantley, a two-star recruit in the class of 2012, was the only 2-star recruit who got any mention by the voters whatsoever; he was an honorable mention pick by the AP.

Speaking of Missouri, coach Gary Pinkel laps the field when it comes to finding under-appreciated players and making them into difference makers. Missouri had eight men make the list: two Superstars (they was Markus Murphy and Shane Ray; Murphy was a first-team pick as an all-purpose player and also as a special teams player, and Ray was the league's Defensive Player of the Year), two Stars and four Good players.

Here's what is really amazing about what Pinkel's done: the other seven players besides Brantley were all 3-star recruits.

Mike and Oprah

The Missourian: Oprah network to air Michael Sam documentary
Outsports: Why everyone got Oprah Winfrey's Michael Sam documentary so desperately wrong

Big weekend for the grapplers

MUTIGERS.COM: Wrestling Set For Ohio Double Dip This Weekend
The Trib: MU wrestling team set for marquee matches in Ohio

But I guess you already knew that, since BST and The Beef already filled you in...