Despite an onslaught of early media criticism, Missouri seniors Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson proved they are among the Big 12 Conference’s best when the Associated Press announced its All-Conference teams Monday night.
Paulding and Johnson, who both average a team-leading 15.7 points per game, were named to the All-Big 12 second team. The same media panel picked Paulding and Johnson as preseason first-team prospects in November.
In the Tigers’ second-round loss to Marquette in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, Paulding and Johnson orchestrated breakthrough performances before Missouri fell 101-92 in overtime.
Paulding drilled nine 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 36 points. Johnson added 28 points and 18 rebounds.
The Tigers’ season ended, but the hype Paulding and Johnson created carried them through preseason predictions.
After their squad fell to 9-10 at Nebraska in early February, Paulding and Johnson teamed to lead the Tigers’ impressive recovery.
In the Tigers’ past eight games, they have won six. Paulding and Johnson, meanwhile, have been unstoppable.
Since the Tigers dropped below .500, Johnson has averaged 21 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Paulding is right behind him with 16.4 points and 4.1 rebounds. He also averaged 3.75 assists.
They are tied for eighth in the Big 12 in scoring.
Johnson became Missouri’s rebound leader, grabbing 1,064. Also named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, Johnson has the school record for blocked shots (244).
With five more points, Johnson will break into the Tigers’ top five list of all-time leading scorers. After a career-high 37 points against Kansas on Sunday, Johnson’s total of 1,693 points moved him behind former All-American Melvin Booker.
Paulding, who earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors on March 1, has scored double-digits in 21 of the Tigers’ 27 games.
They combined for a monstrous showing against then-No. 7 Oklahoma State, leading Missouri to a 93-92 win in double overtime Feb. 23. Paulding led all scorers with 31, and Johnson added 29.
Kansas’ Keith Langford and Colorado’s Michel Morandis and David Harrison join Missouri’s Detroit duo on the second squad.
Harrison, the Buffaloes’ 7-foot center, averages a league-third 17.1 points per game, and Morandis’ 16.4 points follow at fourth.
Langford averages 16.1 points for the Jayhawks.
After claiming the regular season conference title, the Cowboys dominated the All-Big 12 first-team selections, too.
Senior Tony Allen and junior John Lucas lead the group that includes Texas senior Brandon Mouton, Texas Tech’s Andre Emmett and Jayhawk junior Wayne Simien.
Emmett leads the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 20.8 points.