COLUMBIA – After the Missouri men's basketball team won its final home game of the season, senior center Steve Moore grabbed a microphone and walked to center court.
He waited a few moments, trying to catch his breath. His teammates joined him on one side, photographers on the other.
"I don't know about y'all, but I've been here for four years, and it goes by so quick, man," Moore said, his voice faltering as he tried to fight back tears before pointing to the student section and telling the fans how much he loves them.
The student section responded by bellowing its "Steeeeeeeeve" chant.
"When I first got here, I wasn't good at all. I just want to thank all y'all for believing in me, especially my parents," he said pointing to their place in the crowd.
In Missouri's 78-72 victory over Iowa State on Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena, Moore scored three points and grabbed only one rebound, but his were game-changing plays.
"He (Moore) gave us some huge minutes, man," senior guard Kim English said. "We got the charge, we got some deflections, some great blocks, and I think Ricardo (Ratliffe) seeing that really turned his energy up, and we just got that little cushion we needed."
With 13 minutes left in the second half, Moore swatted away a shot attempt by Iowa State's Scott Christopherson and earned his 100th career block as a Tiger. Less than a minute later, Moore grabbed a defensive rebound and went diving to the floor to keep it in his possession. He was able to pass it off, and the play ended with senior guard Kim English completing a layup to put the Tigers up 53-52.
"That gave us the lift to finish the game out. There's no question," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "Just giving of your body, giving of yourself."
In huddles, Haith urged his players to make effort plays and said his team prides itself on winning the effort game. Up to that point in the game, Haith said he was unsure of whether the team was winning the effort game, but Moore's play "was a sign of us getting back to who we are."
When Moore finished his postgame speech to the crowd, he handed the microphone to Andy Rosburg, who thanked his teammates for bringing him in and treating him as if he was one of their own. Jarrett Sutton said playing for Missouri has been a dream come true for him, and he urged fans to support the Tigers throughout the rest of their season. Andrew Jones thanked Haith for giving him a "damn good ride" for his last semester of college.
Senior guard Marcus Denmon, who scored 14 points and seven rebounds during the game, thanked everyone, including his family.
"I've got like 35 people here," Denmon said, naming his grandmother, his father, his uncle, his brother and cousins. "We just want to let y'all know that we appreciate everything."
English told the fans that Missouri has the best student section in the nation and went on to thank "the best coaching staff in America," calling Haith "the best coach that I've had in my four years of college."
"Before I go, I just want to hear the best three letters that I've ever heard," English said. "M-I-Z."
The crowd responded dutifully with "Z-O-U," and a wide grin spread across English’s face.