Twitter wars precede Missouri men's basketball game at Kansas State

Thursday, January 5, 2012 | 10:16 p.m. CST; updated 9:20 a.m. CST, Friday, January 6, 2012

COLUMBIA — Maybe the Delta Upsilon fraternity at Kansas State wants Michael Dixon to be its next member.

As the Missouri men's basketball team prepared for Saturday's game against No. 23 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., the junior guard received hundreds of prank calls and texts messages from Wildcats fans on his cell phone.

Around 11 a.m. Thursday morning, Dixon posted a phone number that had called him persistently throughout the day on his Twitter account. Minutes later, Dixon tweeted the number of another Kansas State fan who had sent him 400 text messages.

Dixon went on to tweet seven numbers of Kansas State fans who had been pestering him. According to a phone directory on the Kansas State university website, two of those numbers appeared to belong to the recruiting chair and vice president of the Delta Upsilon fraternity at Kansas State. 

After tweeting the first two numbers, Dixon tweeted the Antlers, an MU student fan group, telling them them to, "get it done."

The Antlers are known for badgering players and prank calling coaches of Missouri's opponents. Mason Bartlett, an MU sophomore and member of the Antlers, said the group's main goal is to create the greatest home court advantage by trying to distract players on the opposing team.

And when others try doing the same to Missouri players, the Antlers come to their defense.

"He (Dixon) knows he can come to us and say, 'This guy's an idiot. Take care of it,'" Bartlett said. "They were trying to distract him from his main goal, trying to get him off his game. We wanted to let him know we would do everything to make sure that didn't happen."

The tweets went viral. Antlers and other fans alike responded by calling and texting the seven numbers Dixon tweeted to his 6,260 followers. 

While these Kansas State fans appeared to be doing what the Antlers are known for, Barlett said they didn't go about it very well. The Kansas State callers didn't appear to know Dixon is one of the Tigers' best players, even though he comes off the bench. 

"When we do it, we get our facts," Bartlett said. "Before each game we get stat sheets on every player. We do our research."

No. 7 Missouri, which will be trying to keep alive a 14-game winning streak, hasn't won at Kansas State since 2004. The Wildcats (11-2) are also coming off an embarrassing 67-49 loss at rival Kansas and will be seeking redemption.

So, the pregame hype is high and Shawn Davis, a member of MU athletics media relations, said that such harassing calls and texts are just part of the situation.

"I don't know that we can ever prevent this stuff from happening," Davis said. "It's what makes college athletics so interesting, these rivalries."

Davis said the media relations department monitors what Missouri athletes are posting on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but can't control what others post online.

"We're never going to be able to completely control what happens on Twitter," Davis said. "It's a tool of promotion that we use all the time, so we can't tell our guys they can't be on Twitter.

"As long as athletes are on these kinds of social media, it's going to happen. They're putting themselves out there."

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