Missouri hangs on to beat Texas

Missouri beats Texas, 67-66

Missouri-Texas lived up to its prestigious billing as the Big 12’s Basketball Blog’s “Game of the Week.” But all joking aside, the Tigers and Longhorns gave the country a good show tonight.

First off, you really have to feel for Texas. In the past 5 games they’ve played Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri close but only have a win against Iowa State to show for their work. Such is the life of a young team in a good league I suppose. But that win over the Cyclones is starting to look like a good one.

Texas should still be encouraged. They’ve only got one game left on the schedule that would take the planets aligning to win: at Kansas. The other eight games are certainly winnable, with two games each against Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Also, Julien Lewis is turning into a solid two-way player, though he’ll need to improve his efficiency as he goes forward (35 percent FG, 32 percent 3FG on the year). You would like to have seen Myck Kabongo have more of an impact on the game (1 assist/3 turnovers) but Missouri’s guards do play good ball-pressure defense.

As for the Tigers, it looked for awhile late in the second half like they were following the same script from last week’s game against Oklahoma State: tight first half, surge out to a sizable second half lead, watch the lead shrink late as other team’s star player takes over, lose. That all happened, except for the lose part.

Missouri did get stagnant as they tried to run out the clock but there is a fine line to balance between milking clock and losing your offensive flow. There really is no right decision in that scenario. The potential turning point was Mike Dixon’s clear 2-shot-and-the-ball foul on Lewis. Why Kim English gave him the ball so quickly after Dixon had crossed halfcourt is a mystery. It pinned Dixon down and put him in a tough position.

But Dixon came back and made the go-ahead shot, and with Marcus Denmon struggling from the field (14-43 last three games), he’s probably the right man to take that shot. He’s fearless and seemingly plays with a lot of confidence. And especially so when he is near perfect from the field.

We are also finding out that Frank Haith is a good in-game coach, which is something you couldn’t always say for the stubborn Mike Anderson. It some cajones to pull out a zone for Texas’ final possession, and it certainly looked like it confused the Longhorns. Kabongo, however, eventually got a good look with a eight of nine foot runner, and I was surprised that he missed it.

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