KANSAS CITY — Missouri guard Michael Dixon Jr. wanted to leave the Sprint Center as fast as he could.
With seven seconds remaining in the Missouri men's basketball team’s game against Texas A&M on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in Kansas City, Dixon and his teammates were frustrated with how they had played.
Missouri guard Phil Pressey's 3-pointer from several feet beyond the arc missed, and Texas A&M’s Naji Hibbert came up with the rebound. As the game's final seconds ticked away, players began to walk towards each other to shake hands.
Dixon did not.
He got up from his spot on the bench and started walking toward the locker rooms. Missouri assistant David Deets, who was sitting at the end of the Tigers' bench, had to bring his arm to Dixon’s chest to keep him from going any farther after the 86-71 loss eliminated Missouri from the tournament.
It is the time the players have said they need to be playing their best basketball. But Missouri struggled immensely against Texas A&M, shooting 19-of-56 from the field and getting outrebounded 35 to 27.
“When we get down, we can’t drop our heads, we have to fight through it,” said Missouri forward Laurence Bowers, who noted the team’s season-long rule not to think about its last game past midnight.
“That’s in the past now, so we can’t dwell on that. We just got to go home and work out and get ready for, hopefully, an NCAA Tournament game. We just got to correct the things we did wrong and go home and fix it.”
Missouri will learn its seed, opponent and destination for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
“The team that came out and played tonight isn’t the team that we are,” said Missouri guard Marcus Denmon, who scored 22 points in the loss. “We don’t need to panic, though, because I know the types of players we have, the types of coaches we have, so we’ll get it right.”
Missouri coach Mike Anderson agreed with Bowers and Denmon, stating that Thursday’s performance shouldn’t spill over into the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s a new season, and you’re going to play somebody that’s not in your family, that’s not familiar with you,” Anderson said. “A&M is familiar with us, everyone in our league is familiar with everyone else. That’s why you’re seeing teams almost upset others.
“But, I have faith in these guys. They’re trying."