Mizzou Beats Illinois: Quick Reaction

Perhaps I can put together some more complete thoughts on Mizzou’s win tomorrow, but for now some quick analysis from tonight’s exciting win over Illinois.

First, it seems Mike Dixon really is the engine that makes Mizzou go. His ability to penetrate sets up the team’s shooters, and his ability to finish in traffic makes him even more dangerous. His play reminds me a little bit of Rajon Rondo, in the sense that his penetration is the key to Mizzou’s offense. Of course, Dixon is also a really good outside shooter, which is nice when the shot clock is running out and Mizzou needs a quality outside look.

Marcus Denmon might be the team’s most underrated defender. His shooting gets him noticed, but for the second big game in a row (the other against Vandy) Denmon’s defense was huge. Another late game steal off an in-bounds play sparked the finishing run, and it happened right after it looked like Illinois was going to make a run of their own.

Clearly the call on Mike Tisdale will be what this game is remembered for, but it is important to remember it was the right call. Pushing an airborne player in the back with two hands is probably one of the most dangerous plays in basketball, and it was rightfully treated as such. Sure, the situation meant that the call essentially ended the game, but it was still the right call. Some rules (especially the real ticky-tack ones) can be let go by the refs in the final moments of a game, but that is not one of them. Good officiating from John Higgins, for once, even if Bruce Weber disagrees.

Also, way to compound the problem by getting a technical and costing your team two more points Bruce Weber.

For all the hype that surrounded Jereme Richmond the past two years, you would think he could at least be on the floor down the stretch. Impact freshman talent, which is what Richmond is supposed to be, doesn’t get benched in the closing minutes of any game. Maybe I just caught him on an off night, but color me very unimpressed.

Finally, it seems like Mizzou has learned a lot from the Georgetown collapse. They have executed well at the end of a close game for the second time since that meltdown, and were clearly the mentally tougher team.

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