When your team goes 10-21 for the calendar year there are not many games, much less moments or plays that will jump out at you. But after much searching, and making the decision that top plays could occur in losses, things opened up a bit.
The top 10 plays of 2015 are what I thought Mizzou fans would consider the highlights in a year of lowlights. This list includes elements from this new season, but does not include the ladies at all. The ladies should get their own post, and honestly if they were included, there wouldn't be much space for the gents.
All that said, here are the Top 10 Moments of 2015 from the Mizzou Men's Basketball Team...
#1 - Keith Shamburger Daggers Auburn (March 3, 2015)
In a season with very few wins, a shot to win a game on senior night as a senior will resonate among all others. Keith Shamburger had come to Mizzou with the expectation that he would be getting his final chance at a trip to the NCAA tournament, alas this was not to be. Mizzou trailed Auburn for the entire second half, until Namon Wright tied the game on a layup following a Keanau Post steal, setting the stage for an interesting final minute of regulation. Auburn would turn the ball over two times in the last minute before Shamburger would end up with the ball at the top of the key, hitting a fadeaway jumper to seal the victory.
The shot would provide a nice moment for a senior on his night and gave the fans the chance to exult in a moment in a season where such moments were few and far between.
#2 - Keanau Post Destroys Devin Booker (January 29, 2015)
Above I mentioned that some of the best plays of the season would come in losses, well this was one of them. And the only reason this isn't number one is because it occurred in a loss. When Kentucky came calling Mizzou was in the midst of a six game losing streak (that would stretch to 13 before it ended) and had just come off a heartbreaking loss to Arkansas at home (discussed later in this list). Mizzou had already been manhandled in the most embarrassing way in Lexington and with the Cats coming to town, optimism was not on the menu.
With Mizzou trailing 8-7, Devin Booker got the ball in space and was looking to posterize anyone who got in his way towards the hoop, instead he met Mr. Post. Keanau saw him coming and as he went up, so did Keanau and then he slapped that ball out of the air and sent it flying into the seats, bringing the crowd and the RMN live thread to its feet. Post did not have many moments in his Mizzou career but this was the biggest, and the fact that it sent a message to a highly wanted recruit and son of a former Tiger made it that much sweeter.
#3 - Namon Wright Goes Off (February 25, 2015)
Freshmen are gonna Freshmen. From one game to the next, from one play to the next you just don't know what they're going to do. Freshmen have moments of brilliance and others of complete befuddlement, and in a transition year, there were many.
But on one night everything came together for freshman Namon Wright against Florida at home. In a night where he would make six three pointers, his biggest might have been his last. With the Gators creeping back into the game, Wright hit his sixth three pointer off an assist by Keith Shamburger and effectively put the game away. In a year of frustration, this final shot provided a moment of "are you kidding me" Mizzou fans hadn't experienced since the halcyon days of no conscious Clarence Gilbert.
#4 - Jakeenan Gant Blocks and Dunks (February 25, 2015)
As noted above with Namon Wright, freshman Jakeenan Gant was having a freshman type year. Coming off of a nine game suspension and lighting up the scoreboard against Xavier, Mizzou fans' already unrealistically high expectations were surging. Then, Gant did what freshman do, played inconsistently and never really lived up to the potential Mizzou fans had set up for themselves.
Against Florida, in one of Mizzou's three conference wins, Jakeenan had a sequence everyone was hoping they'd see more of and are still hoping to see this coming year. With Mizzou clinging to a one point lead, Kasey Hill corralled an offensive board and attempted a short putback in the key before being swatted by Gant, which was picked up by Shamburger, brought up court, to find Jakeenan for an alley oop dunk that blew the doors off of Mizzou Arena and extended a one point lead to three.
This moment has Mizzou fans excited and still wanting more from the heralded freshman, hopefully 2016 brings just that.
#5 - J3 almost buries LSU (January 8, 2015)
Mizzou was coming off of a tough nonconference season having gone 0 for the Power 5 and taking a loss to UMKC in the process. As they entered SEC play against LSU, Mizzou was hoping to right the ship and a Johnny Jones coached team was going to provide just what they were looking for. In a back and forth game characterized by turnovers and fouls, Mizzou had an opportunity to put the game away in regulation. Mizzou was holding onto a one point lead, LSU turned the ball over and with 30 seconds left, J3 hit a potential game winning shot to extend said lead to three. Unfortunately, Keith Hornsby would come down the floor and hit a ridiculous three pointer to send the game to overtime, but in that moment, when that shot went down Mizzou's season appeared to be taking a turn for the good. The Tigers would eventually win the game at the foul line in OT and this would prove to be J3's last big moment at Mizzou.
#6 - Teki gives Mizzou a Chance (January 24, 2015)
Riding a four game losing streak in the SEC (losing on the road to Auburn and being bludgeoned by Kentucky, with an uninspiring game against UT and a beating at A&M) Mizzou returned home for a Saturday matinee against new permanent rival Arkansas coached by former Mizzou head man, Mike Anderson. Mizzou and the Hogs were going back and forth all game long and after Rashad Madden hit one of two free throws Mizzou got the ball back and it ended up Teki's hands. MGC had had an up and down season to that point suffering from sloppy ball handling and a Leron Black body slam in the Illinois game that would have him ailing all year long, but also showing signs of a nice shot and a desire to get to the hoop.
Just minutes before this moment, Teki had drained a three that had tied the game and now he'd have the opportunity to push the Tigers into the lead, which he would do. This play stands out because of what it could have meant for him as a player and what it did mean for the fans. The Tigers would eventually lose after Wes Clark missed two free throws with seconds remaining, but in a season of bad, Teki's shot to take the lead was one of the moments for rejoicing.
#7 - Ryan Rosburg Jams the Wildcats (January 29, 2015)
It's clear to anyone who follows Mizzou sports that Mizzou fans yearn, almost painfully so, for a native son or daughter to become the next savior of their respective program, whether that be in basketball or any other sport. Mizzou fans also want to love these players for years at a time, a one night stand won't do. And that's where Ryan Rosburg comes in. Rosburg of St. Louis has seen the highest highs and the lowest of lows in his four years at Mizzou and the fans love him for it.
In its second game against the undefeated Wildcats Mizzou was hanging tough, trading basket for basket and the crowd that had filled Mizzou Arena was loving it. After hitting a layup a few plays previously on his now patented get the ball near the basket and spin to the hoop, Wes Clark had drawn coverage around the three point line and found Rosburg streaking to the basket. Rosburg took the pass on the bounce and went up strong dunking around two Kentucky defenders to keep Mizzou Arena rocking. As we know Mizzou would eventually lose the game with Kentucky pulling away, but this play gave Mizzou fans a moment of fun, and love for their native son.
#8 - Kevin Puryear scores the first points of Mizzou's Season (November 14, 2015)
After the darkness that was the 2014-2015 season of Mizzou basketball, season 2 of the Kim Anderson era began with a lot of hope, and with a first game of the season against an NCAA tournament team in Wofford, things would get off to a big start.
As stated above in #7, if Mizzou fans are given the option to cheer for a native son, they will and they will do it hard. Enter freshman Kevin Puryear who to that point was saying all the right things and practicing well. But how would he show out once the season began? Well, to put it succinctly, he blew up. In his first collegiate game he would put up 20 points and lead all Mizzou scorers in a big win over Wofford, but the play that stands out is his first one. Mizzou is trailing 5-0 missing shots, and committing fouls and nothing is going particularly well. Then it happened, a simple made jumper on an assist by fellow freshman Terrence Phillips and the Tigers were back into it. The freshman class was making an impact and Mizzou fans were eating it up.
In the subsequent games we've seen the impact Puryear can have against smaller opponents and his future appears to be bright, let's hope 2016 brings us more of this. Here's the game wrap for that game:
#9 - Terrence Phillips tries to bring Mizzou back against Northwestern (November 25, 2015)
It's been some time since Mizzou fans have seen an incoming recruit embrace all that Missouri is like they have with Terrence Phillips, the point guard from California via VA. And the love he has shown, they've returned that affection with all their being.
After a whooping at the hands of Kansas State the night before, Mizzou looked to make things right by taking on Northwestern in the third place game of the CBE Classic in Kansas City. But like the night before, Mizzou came out flat and looked defeated from the jump. This night, things would be different however.
After getting down 20 the Tigers clawed back and in the final minutes of the game had cut the Wildcats lead to 6 when Terrence got the ball. What has plagued this Mizzou squad for the past two years has been an inability or a lack of desire to get to the hoop with authority and that's where Phillips comes in. Knowing his team needed a basket, Terrence went full bore with the ball to the heart of the Northwestern defense and scored in traffic. Unfortunately for Phillips and Mizzou he would foul out before being able to complete the comeback and the game but this kind of energy gave Mizzou fans a sneak peak of what they can expect in the season and years to come.
#10 - Wes Clark goes it alone against Illinois (December 23, 2015)
There's one thing every Mizzou fan wants before they close out the calendar year and that's a big win over border rival Illinois at the Scottrade Center. And like last year, Mizzou ended up with a chance to do just that. Stop me if you've heard this before, but Mizzou got down big early to Illinois and looked to be cooked at half time.
Enter Wes Clark. Clark has dealt with his fair share of adversity in his three years at Mizzou, from suspensions, to a busted elbow, to his coach abandoning him to fly south for Tulsa. And in that time all he's been forced to be a leader he, at the time, was not ready to be.
In play number 10, Clark did all he could to bring his team back from the depths to give the Tigers a shot at a victory over Illinois. In this game he had 21 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, shot 50% from the field and 4 of 6 from Three. But it was his final three pointer that ranks in this play. With his team needing a shot, and chance to get back in the game, Clark took the ball and dialed in from long range to bring the Tigers back to a deficit of five. Ultimately Mizzou would lose this game, but without that shot and this player, there wouldn't have even been a game worth discussing.
And that will do it, the top 10 plays of the 2015 Mizzou Men's basketball year. What's missing? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and let's hope for a top 20 in 2016!