The Missouri men's basketball team was coming back. The Tigers had cut Colorado’s lead to seven points with two minutes left to play. Michael Dixon beat a clenched fist against his chest, and a feeling started brewing that Missouri was on the verge of a run. Alec Burks had different plans.
Colorado’s leading scorer had been quiet in the second half compared to his outstanding performance in the first. But when it mattered most, the player from Grandview, Mo., made the big shots to help his team defeat Missouri 89-76 on Saturday at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo.
After Missouri's loss to Colorado, Missouri coach Mike Anderson announced that junior forward Laurence Bowers received a ticket for false identification during a traffic stop in Columbia on Friday.
According to team spokesman Dave Reiter, Bowers, who turns 21 in April, presented his own ID to the officer, but the officer also noticed Bowers was in possession of an ID that did not belong to him. Bowers' punishment is being handled internally, but Bowers will not be suspended.
“How about Alec Burks?” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said in his postgame radio interview.
“You always wonder about those when they’re from your home state. They want to make sure you know."
Burks played the leading role in Colorado’s two 15-2 runs in the first half, scoring 20 of his 36 total points in the period.
He seemed unguardable. Against the smaller Marcus Denmon, he could fade away, shooting over him. When Laurence Bowers stepped out to guard him, he dribbled hard one direction then crossed over, creating enough separation to loft another soon to be swished 3-pointer over Bowers' outstretched arms. Matt Pressey tried too, but the outcome was the same. Burks kept scoring.
“It seemed like every time we had a run, he would make a big play or a big bucket for them,” Anderson said.
When the lead was cut to seven with two minutes left, Marcus Denmon was called for a technical foul. Colorado had called a timeout. Denmon didn't think the Colorado player had possession. He reared his arm back like he was going to slam the ball off the ground, but than decided against it. He tossed the ball off to his side and got up, jogging toward his team's huddle when the referee blew his whistle, signaling the the technical.
"I'm still kind of mystified by that there," Anderson said.
Burks stepped to the line and made one of the two free throws. Because of the foul, Colorado got the ball back, and Burks made up for the earlier miss by milking the shot clock down and sinking a jump shot.
Colorado hadn’t won a Big 12 Conference opener in 13 tries. But, this wasn’t the old Colorado. Missouri was outplayed by its own style on Saturday.
“It’s obvious that they almost beat us at our own game,” Bowers said by phone.
“They weren’t pressing or anything, but as far as getting it back at you that’s what they had going for them, and they didn’t go away from it. They were coming up with every loose ball. It seems like there were times I blocked a shot, and they would end up getting the ball and sticking it right back in the hole. That just shows you what kind of day it was.”
Missouri was outrebounded 47-33 by Colorado.
“We got outscrapped,” Bowers said.
Missouri started out well, with Ricardo Ratliffe scoring six of the team’s first eight points, but then Burks started taking over.
“I think if we could have contained him a little better than we did, then the game would have been totally different. I think the guys on his team jumped on his back once he got it going,” Bowers said.
If Burks was trying to get the attention of the team from his home state, his mission was accomplished.