Missouri second in Big 12 media poll

Wednesday, November 5, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:33 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

It’s no secret coaches and the media don’t always agree. On Tuesday, that ageless disagreement made history.

Picking Kansas the Big 12 Conference Championship winner, the Big 12 men’s basketball media poll differed from the coaches’ top pick for the first time in its seven-year history.

Kansas got 18 first-place votes.

As runner-up, Missouri received eight votes, and Texas finished third with two. Announced Oct. 22, the coaches’ poll slotted the Tigers first with eight of 11 first-place votes. The Longhorns were chosen second, followed by the Jayhawks.

Three Tigers earned top honors.

The media named Missouri center Arthur Johnson, a senior, Big 12 Player of the Year.

Johnson also earned a spot on the preseason All-Big 12 Team for the second straight year. Johnson, MU record holder in blocked shots (198), can seize the school record in rebounds with 195 more this season.

Missouri guard Rickey Paulding, like Johnson a senior and Detroit native, joins him on the preseason All-Conference team.

Paulding, who led the Tigers’ offense with 17.4 points per game last season, is the league’s second-leading returning scorer. Johnson and Paulding finished the 2003 season with second-team All-Big 12 and NCAA Tournament selection team honors.

The media put more expectations on junior transfer Jason Conley’s first season as a Tiger and named him Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. A 6-foot-5 guard who transferred from VMI, Conley led the Keydets with 22.2 points per game and 7.3 rebounds in 10 games last year before deciding to transfer.

Conley became the first freshman to lead the nation in scoring when he averaged 29.5.

Although he won’t be eligible to play until the winter semester, Conley, touted as the “best pure scorer” of the Tigers’ 2003 recruits, will fuel Missouri’s offense in time for conference play.

All three players earned the same honors from Big 12 coaches.

After the coaches’ and media polls picked the Tigers fourth in last year’s preseason polls, the team finished the season tied for fifth with Colorado.

The Tigers aren’t shying away from this year’s preseason hype. Missouri coach Quin Snyder said this team’s credibility lies in its depth.

“There were some questions about where we’ve been picked before,” Snyder said. “We weren’t there yet, and we’ll see if we’re there now. It’s a nice compliment to our guys. The big difference between this team and some teams we’ve had previously is that this is a group of guys that’s been through our program for four years and I think that the culture begins to take hold.”

The Tigers will test their ranking at 7 p.m. Monday against Inner Hoop at Hearnes Center.

MU WOMEN: The media picked the Tigers to finish seventh in the Big 12. It’s the same spot the coaches predicted. The Tigers were 17-14 last year and went 9-7 in the Big 12 and tied for fifth. That matched the Tigers’ highest Big 12 conference finish.

Texas received 17 of 18 first-place votes, and Kansas State got the other.

MU has an exhibition game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hearnes Center against Southwest Baptist University.

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