Johnson biggest of MU’s big men

Tigers’ forward breaks another record as he continues to raise the bar.
Thursday, March 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:31 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

LUBBOCK, Texas — Before the season, Arthur Johnson made it a goal to become Missouri’s best big man.

Johnson took another step to taking that title. After he grabbed eight rebounds at Texas Tech on Wednesday night, Johnson passed former MU great Doug Smith, a fellow Detroit native, for the school mark. Johnson has 1,554 rebounds, one more than Smith.

In the context of the Tigers’ 87-76 loss, the Tigers’ first defeat in seven games, Johnson preferred to convey his displeasure with the team’s performance and that breaking the record meant little to him.

“I don’t care about that record,” Johnson said. “I’ll maybe think about it later, but not (Wednesday).”

Despite Johnson’s bitter reaction to the game, his career statistics and impact make him a leading candidate for his goal. Johnson is also the first Tiger to have more than 1,600 points, 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocks.

“(The rebounding record) helps,” Johnson said. “It helps a lot, but I still have a lot of winning left to do with this team in order to be considered the best big man ever to play at Mizzou.”

Smith set the record from 1987-91. Earlier in the year, Johnson said the record would allow him to be discussed in the same breath as Smith.

“It’s quite a feat,” coach Quin Snyder said. “It’s something we’ll look back on and be real proud of.”

Sophomore guard Jimmy McKinney said it shows Johnson’s significant impact on the program’s development.

“That’s big for him and really big for our program,” McKinney said. “That’s two records he has broken since he has been here all four years. That really lets you know how big he is for this program.”

Sultan of swat

Johnson broke Steve Stipanovich’s record for blocks in a career in 2002-03.

Johnson moved up on the Big 12 Conference blocked-shot list. Johnson blocked two shots Wednesday, which gives him 243. That ties him with Kansas’ Nick Collison for second all-time. Johnson, though, needs 42 more to pass former Texas center Chris Mihm.

After scoring a team-high 24 against the Red Raiders, Johnson ranks eighth in MU scoring with 1,656 points.

Offensive threat

Although his teammates struggled on offense, Johnson did not, for he kept them in the game in the first half and helped the attempted comeback in the second. When Johnson had an opportunity to touch the ball on offense, he was nearly unstoppable.

The Red Raiders rotated several defenders at him, but senior Robert Tomaszek, junior Devonne Giles and freshman Darryl Dora could not slow Johnson. In addition, they combined for 10 fouls, and Tomaszek fouled out.

Because the Red Raiders lacked a strong inside presence, Johnson powered the Tigers’ offense in the first half. His basket on a feed from Travon Bryant started a 9-2 run with 16:37 left in the half.

He scored his second basket when he streaked down the court for a dunk after picking up a steal. That basket gave the Tigers an 8-4 lead. He had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

In the second half, Johnson scored nine of the Tigers’ first 14 points. Johnson finished 9-of-17 from the field, but he made 6-of-10 free throws.

“He can do a lot of things,” McKinney said. “He can put the ball on the floor. He can do a lot of things that the other big men in the league can do. I really rank him high among the big men to come out of Mizzou.”

Johnson averaged a team-best 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds during the Tigers’ six-game winning streak.

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