KANSAS CITY — With only one minute remaining, Texas Tech coach Pat Knight told his team one thing: Pressure Missouri.
“We just started pressing them to try and get back in it, and it worked,” Knight said. “Our guys like that style of play. With a motion offense and playing faster, you’re able to get a lot of shots and a lot of opportunities to stay in the game, even if they got up on us at some points.”
No. 6 seed Missouri Tigers
(23-9, 8-8 Big 12)
vs. No. 3 seed Texas A&M Aggies
(23-7, 10-6 Big 12)
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Sprint Center, Kansas City
RADIO: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
The added pressure caused all sorts of problems for Missouri on Wednesday, most notably when guard Kim English made a costly mistake.
With Missouri holding an 86-82 lead, English was pressured by multiple Red Raider defenders and temporarily lost his balance. He stumbled forward, moving both feet, and was called for traveling, giving the ball to Texas Tech.
The Missouri fans at Sprint Center voiced their disapproval by erupting in boos, while some fans were yelling at Missouri coach Mike Anderson to put English on the bench. Anderson threw up his arms and looked with a questioning face at English.
Texas Tech would score and cut the lead to 86-84.
“We had more turnovers there at the end than we had for the entire game,” Anderson said.
But then, Missouri figured out how to combat Texas Tech's pressure and held on to win 88-84.
Missouri used the added pressure to get several fouls called on the Red Raiders. One of those fouls sent Missouri guard Michael Dixon Jr. to the free throw line, where he made 1-of-2 free throws to give Missouri an 87-84 lead.
After Texas Tech guard John Roberson missed a hurried layup, the ball bounced around between players before Missouri forward Laurence Bowers, who hadn’t been a factor for much of the game because of foul trouble, came up with the biggest defensive rebound of the game. Bowers kicked it out to Marcus Denmon, who ran around in circles for nearly 10 seconds before a Texas Tech player could catch and foul him.
After Denmon added another free throw for Missouri, the win was all but secured with one second remaining.
It wasn’t pretty, but Missouri players said that they did the most important thing: just advance.
“We just had a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers late in the game,” Dixon said. “We were able to close it out though, and we’re going to advance, that’s what matters.”
Knight's team had nothing to lose. As the No. 11 seed in the Big 12 Tournament, he knew that Texas Tech's season would end if the Red Raiders lost in the tournament. In addition, Knight was fired on Monday after three seasons at Texas Tech.
Missouri will play No. 3 seed Texas A&M in the second round at 8:30 Thursday night. Earlier this season, Missouri lost at Texas A&M 91-89 in overtime.