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Tigers sign top recruit Criswell

The 6-foot-9 forward verbally committed to Kentucky before signing with Missouri.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:50 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Tigers signed their third and final recruit for the 2005-06 class on Tuesday. Leo Criswell, a 6-9 native of Kansas City, signed with Missouri.

Criswell had already verbally committed to Kentucky before making his decision to join the Tigers. As a junior in high school, Criswell averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds a game. He is rated as a top-50 recruit by several different recruiting sites. Rivalhoops.com ranks him the 26th-best forward in this year’s recruiting class.

Missouri coach Quin Snyder had no problems letting everyone know how much he liked his new recruit.

“I think he’s a terrific addition and someone that we saw this summer and we felt really fit the kind of versatility that we’re looking for,” Snyder said.

Friendly faces: As Texas natives, guard Jason Horton and forward Marshall Brown saw many familiar faces on Houston’s team. Brown even played in a summer league against Houston’s second-leading scorer, Lanny Smith. Horton and Brown said they keep in touch with Smith and some of the others they’ve played with or against. Brown said the win against his friends meant a little bit more for him.

“It’s more like a bragging rights game because when you see ’em again you’re like ‘OK, yeah. We beat you all.’ So it’s cool when you play against people you know,” Brown said.

Shake and bake: To end the first period, Horton made a move that sent a Houston defender sprawling to the ground. This opened up a pass to senior guard Jason Conley who proceeded to drain a 3-pointer as time expired. The shot capped a late Tiger run that left Houston trailing 35-29.

Share and share alike: About midway through the second period, Jimmy McKinney pulled off an uncontested baseline dunk with the help of his teammates. Gardner had the ball and immediately passed to sophomore Linas Kleiza, who then passed it around to sophomore Spencer Laurie, who was open for a 3-pointer but decided to pass it yet again to McKinney down in the corner with an open lane to the basket.

Under his skin: Junior center Kevin Young had one of the best nights of his career scoring 8 on 4-of-7 shooting. During the game, Young was full of intensity and often showed it. Late in the game, Young helped trap Houston’s Brian Latham just inside the line on Missouri’s end of the court. Latham tried to make a play and bounce it off Young. But before he could, he stepped over the line, turning the ball over to the Tigers. Young proceeded to clap right in Latham’s face. He later admitted he was trying to get under the player’s skin.

In another visible show of excitement, Young screamed and pounded his chest while running to get back on defense after a huge slam.

“I think everybody knows I like beating my chest a lot,” Young said.

If you build it, will they come? For the second straight game the Paige Sports Arena was nowhere near capacity. On Monday night, Paige hosted 6,981 fans and Tuesday night 8,054 fans showed up to support the Tigers. Snyder said he wasn’t surprised with such a low turnout on a weeknight.

He said he knew Missouri’s fan base spreads all over the state, making it hard for people to attend every game.

Instead of worrying about the people that weren’t there, Snyder praised those who were.

“I’m not worried about (the attendance),” Snyder said. “I think the fans that we did have were great. I thought our students were great again. I just think we play good basketball and people want to come see us.”


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