COLUMBIA — Freshman guard Michael Dixon Jr. received a lot more than playing time during the annual Black and Gold game — he received a pardon.
The Show-Me State Player of the Year fouled out in the first half of the intrasquad scrimmage Friday night at Mizzou Arena and finished with six fouls overall. However, thanks to some string pulling by his coach, Gov. Jay Nixon, his fouls were forgiven and he was allowed to play in the second half.
“I pardoned him,” Nixon joked. “We won, and now its over. I hope to not have to use it when KU is here.”
Dixon Jr. picked up his fifth foul on a reach-in during the first half. He followed that with an unheard of sixth foul in the first minute of the second half. Dixon Jr. said that this was the first time he had ever fouled out of a game, but he was quick to defer the blame.
“I think it was the governor’s fault,” Dixon Jr. said laughing. “I think I’ve only played with five fouls once, in an all-star game.”
Despite Dixon Jr.'s troubles, the Black team won 91-82. Gov. Nixon coached the Black team and MU President Gary Forsee coached the Gold in a relaxed atmosphere that saw Tigers coach Mike Anderson sitting back in his chair on the sideline.
After picking up that fifth foul at half, Dixon said he was given a hard time by a lot of the players, and even Anderson.
“It (fouling out) was amazing. I walked into the locker room and asked the guys if someone really fouled out,” Anderson said. "Of course, coach Nixon gave him a pardon.”
Thanks to executive decision, Dixon Jr. finished with 22 points and five assists. Anderson said that with six fouls, the freshman guard must play better defense, but overall he was was pleased.
“You see why he was one of the better players in the state,” Anderson said.
There was also a lot of highlight reel plays throughout the game that showcased the potential Missouri has at the forward position. Laurence Bowers excited the crowd with an alley-oop dunk from guard Miguel Paul in which Bowers reached his arm back and slammed the ball into the hoop.
However, the game was dominated by guard play. Sophomore guard Kim English scored 32 points on 21 shots, which was uncharacteristic of Missouri’s usually even scoring. English routinely took the opportunity to shoot several fade-away three-pointers, and took a lot of jump shots while heavily guarded.
The forwards struggled to replicate the same offensive success, with Bowers leading the group with 15 points. English said these types of games are mainly for guards anyway, and are no indication of what the forwards can do.
“Games like this are guard dominated,” English said, “When we start playing real games, our biggs will be more involved. This is not a glimpse of what (the forwards) will do.”
Anderson said he was pleased with his team’s effort, but he said there is a lot of work yet to do if it is going to replicate its 31 wins and Big 12 tournament championship from last year.
“I think we got some guys that can put it in the hole,” Anderson said, “but the thing I worry about is we got to be able to guard people, got to be able to rebound with people and be that team that is going to be tenacious, scramble people and claw.”