KANSAS CITY — Michael Dixon Jr. looked like he had just seen a ghost.
He stood on the Sprint Center court with his eyes bulging and his head shaking slowly in disbelief. It had been a forgetful 48 seconds.
In that time frame, he had picked up three fouls, totaling five for the game, fouling out with eight minutes left in the second half.
Finally gathering himself, he walked slowly over to the Missouri bench. With his jersey untucked and dangling loosely over his shorts, and his head down, he tried to process what had just happened.
Relegated to the bench, Dixon tried to come to terms with his predicament during a torturous final eight minutes.
He fidgeted as the Tigers cut the deficit to eight points, only to see it slip back to double-digits. Even after made baskets, Dixon could barely muster a clap. He tried putting his towel and hands over his eyes, anything to shield him from the game he could no longer be a factor in.
“That could do something to your psyche,” J.T. Tiller said, “because you know what you can bring to the table, and you just can’t.”
Dixon watched helplessly as No. 5 seed Missouri lost to No. 12 seed Nebraska 75-60 in the first round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Wednesday in Kansas City, eliminating the Tigers from the tournament.
“I just thought I had two charges that I set … but the ref saw otherwise,” Dixon said. “Then, in the post I was just fighting for position. I didn’t think I was fouling, I had been doing that the whole game.”
Just five minutes before, Dixon had been a spark for Missouri. He had scored five straight points for the Tigers and was having one of his best games since the start of Big 12 play. The crowd began to cheer for the first time in the second half and Missouri was rebounding and defending with more intensity. Then, just as quickly as Dixon had ignited the team, it was gone.
“As a coach you try and find somebody to come in and spark you,” Anderson said. "And he was that spark we needed.”
The three quick fouls were indicative of the way the Tigers were playing. They struggled to score and could never seem to get into a rhythm. Every Missouri basket was matched with a 3-pointer or layup by Nebraska.
“Everything that happened (to Dixon) was happening for everybody,” Tiller said. “We would hit a run, then we’d shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Dixon understands that the fouls were mostly his fault. The majority came because he struggled to stay with his defender away from the ball. However, Dixon thinks the reason for the speed at which he drew the fouls was due to something entirely out of his control.
“I think it was just me being a freshman in the Big 12. I don’t really get a lot of respect because I am a first-year player,” Dixon said. “Hopefully, it will change, but maybe I just got to stop fouling.”
After the final buzzer sounded Dixon looked saddened by the loss, but relieved. The torture was finally over.