KANSAS CITY - In the opening minutes of Missouri's 81-67 win over Texas, Marcus Denmon came down hard on his ankle. He gritted his teeth, cringing. The slightest limp was detected, but only for a second.
It was a moment that echoed his sophomore year, when he was Missouri's second leading scorer despite playing on a gimpy knee.
Or his junior year when the day after his cousin was killed, Denmon played through the pain of losing the 20-year-old he regarded as a brother, and led Missouri to an 85-82 victory over Vanderbilt.
Because for Denmon, it isn't about whether his ankle or knee or his heart is hurting. It's about what he can do for others.
Missouri has been heralded as one of the most selfless teams in the country. Many have consistently attributed the team's success to this selflessness. Denmon says that it's about caring and trusting each other, and with those things, being selfless comes naturally.
That selflessness didn't exist last year. But Denmon isn't blaming last year's dysfunction on his team not caring about each other.
"We've always cared about each other, but we didn't understand that you can be selfish unintentionally," Denmon said. "This year we really bought into it as a team."
For Denmon, that selflessness that didn't start this season. It didn't even start on the basketball court. It is a byproduct of his upbringing.
"Early on we show him what a man needs to do in terms of his responsibility. And that's all that he's doing," his uncle Martinez Denmon said.
And this isn't the tale of a poor black kid coming from the projects and making a name for himself against the odds.
"I don't know where that got started," Martinez Denmon said.
"Ya, Marcus ain't from no hood," his great-uncle Marcell Denmon adds with a laugh. "Marcus has no ghetto in him whatsoever."
He's from suburban Kansas City, where he lived among the upper-middle class, having all of his needs, and most of his wants, met.
"He's always been a giving kid, one who probably had more than most people growing up," Martinez Denmon said.
Marcus Denmon has always been surrounded by a family who loves and cares for him. At Missouri's senior night against Iowa State, he gave a shout out his family in attendance.
"To all my family, I got like 35 people here. I love all y’all. My grandpa, my daddy, my uncle, my brother. Everybody that’s over there, cousins too,” Marcus Denmon said.
It is from these people, from that surrounding, that he was taught to be generous.
"That's how I was raised, and it translated onto the court as well," Marcus Denmon said.
Marcus Denmon played 36 minutes in Saturday's game. That's 36 minutes he played on an ankle he iced after the game, saying it didn't look good and felt worse.
He's Missouri's leading scorer this season, averaging 18 points per game, but against Texas he was 0-for-10 in field-goals. And although he scored only two points off of free-throws, his 36 minutes were anything but unproductive, with three steals and six rebounds.
"Marcus stays level headed and he's not just a scorer. He can pass the ball, he's a great defender, he's a tremendous rebounder," junior Michael Dixon said. "He knows what this team is capable of, he knows he doesn't have to score 20 points for us to win."
Kim English also suffered a mild injury during the game. After being hit hard in the thigh during the second half, he limped into the locker room. He returned to a loud cheer from the crowd. Immediately, he went back to the game.
Both Denmon and English will be suiting up tomorrow, and both will be selflessly pursuing a Big 12 championship title against Baylor.
"I'll be fine tomorrow," English said. "It's the championship. It's the Big 12."