Missouri clinches No. 2 seed in conference tournament

Thursday, March 1, 2012 | 9:51 p.m. CST; updated 10:20 p.m. CST, Friday, March 2, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Missouri men's basketball team will be the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament next weekend in Kansas City.

The Tigers (26-4, 13-4) clinched the spot after beating Iowa State 78-72 in their final home game Wednesday night. This means Missouri will play its first postseason game at 6 p.m. March 8 at the Sprint Center. Missouri will play the winner of a Wednesday game between seventh-seeded Oklahoma State and 10th-seeded Texas Tech.

Kansas will be the No. 1 seed, which means that the two rivals will not meet unless both make it to the Big 12 championship game.

Missouri's performance in the conference tournament will have a major influence in what seed the Tigers get in the NCAA tournament the following week.

"We really have to stay true to what we've done all year," Missouri coach Frank Haith said after Wednesday's win. "We have to continue to do our preparation work how we've done it all year. This team is used to doing things, and we've been pretty consistent in how we've prepared our guys."

Milestone for two players

Two of the biggest contributors to Missouri's surprising season have been senior Marcus Denmon and sophomore Phil Pressey. Both players were named to Naismith Midseason 30 Watch List on Wednesday.

Denmon has been Missouri's leading scorer this season with 18 points per game. His 14 points on Wednesday tied him with Melvin Booker for sixth on the school's all-time scoring list.

Pressey has been Missouri's leading assist man with 9.9 assists per game. He broke the school's single-season assist record on Wednesday. He has 183 assists so far this season, four more than Anthony Peeler had in the 1989-90 season.

Tigers finish regular season Saturday

Missouri has one last regular season game to play before the postseason. The Tigers will face Texas Tech (8-21, 1-16) on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas, to close out Big 12 regular season play.

Texas Tech is in last place in the Big 12, but it gave Missouri a good game when the two teams met in Columbia on Jan. 28. The Red Raiders held the Tigers to their second lowest point total of the season in a 63-50 finish but have lost eight of their last nine games since then.

"Missouri is a good team," Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie said after that game. "They make it very difficult for you to play defense because they're able to make shots. They can shoot it; they can beat you in transition. That's just another real smart thing their coaching staff has done, utilizing the personnel that they have to the best. That's why they are winning a lot of games."

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