Missouri men's basketball team seeks revenge against Oral Roberts

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | 6:55 p.m. CST; updated 8:13 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Missouri sophomore guard Michael Dixon has been suspended for violating a team rule and will not play in the Tigers' game against Oral Roberts on Thursday night at Mizzou Arena.

COLUMBIA — After last season's frustrating outcome, the Missouri men's basketball team is seeking revenge on Thursday night against visiting Oral Roberts.

After Missouri's Elite Eight appearance in the 2009 NCAA tournament, the 5-2 Tigers were big favorites against the 5-4 Golden Eagles last season at the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Missouri held a 59-58 lead when Oral Roberts forward Dominique Morrison passed the ball to Michael Craion in the final seconds. Craion made an easy layup to give Oral Roberts a one-point lead with nine-tenths of a second left. Missouri had one last chance, but after Craion intercepted former Tiger player Zaire Taylor’s inbound pass, the fans celebrated an upset.

"To see them rush the floor in a game that we really needed to win at the time just left a bitter taste in our mouths,” Missouri junior Jarrett Sutton said. “I can remember sitting in that locker room, in shock, and just frustrated and angry.”

Meanwhile, the feeling in the Oral Roberts locker room was the opposite.

“That was probably the most fun I ever had after winning a game in college,” Morrison said in a phone interview. “It was a school like Missouri, and I’m from (Kansas City) Missouri, so it was real fun beating them. To have that feeling, to have fans embrace you like that, just made me so happy.”

Missouri players are clear what their motivation will be Thursday night.

“There’s some games that you know are a revenge game,” junior forward Laurence Bowers said. “Oral Roberts is one of those games. We had the game (last year), and they took it from us.”

It won't be easy for the Tigers, though. Missouri will be without one of its key players, sophomore guard Michael Dixon Jr., who has been suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule and will not play against Oral Roberts. Dixon has started every game this season and leads the Tigers in assists.

"We have high standards for how we expect our young men to carry themselves," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said in a release. "Michael didn't meet those standards, therefore he is suspended indefinitely."

Just before Monday’s media day, the Missouri players watched last season’s game as a reminder of what took place last season. Sutton said the hardest part about last season's loss was that on paper Missouri knew it was the better team and the Tigers gave what players called a “gift” to Oral Roberts.

“It wasn’t like a Big 12 loss where it’s a tough matchup,” Sutton said. “We knew that we had more weapons, and that if we played our game, we would’ve been fine. But they came out and took it to us, which is what teams like that do. They don’t have anything to lose.”

Morrison said that last season Oral Roberts focused on slowing down Missouri's fast-tempo game and that controlling the pace of the game is again a primary focus for the Golden Eagles this year.

“It would be real exciting to win against a top-25 team on their home floor,” said Morrison before pausing to think for a second. “It’ll be huge.”

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