Conley shines despite costly misses

Monday, November 22, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:18 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Marshall Brown is touted as one of the best jumpers to play at Missouri, but Jason Conley showed the freshman how to really fly Friday night.

Despite his best efforts, though, Conley was unable to lift the Tigers to a victory. In the last eight seconds, Conley had two chances at 3-point shots to tie but both were off the mark and Missouri fell to Davidson 84-81.

Conley, a 6-foot-5 guard, usually gets his points quietly, but Friday his play screamed for attention.

Early in the game, Conley got a steal and found himself with an open lane to the basket. As he neared the basket, he took off from a little inside the paint, flew through the air and brought down a two-handed slam. The dunk was so hard Conley had to hold on to the rim to steady himself before he dropped back to the ground. The crowd at Paige Sports Arena was awed at first, but immediately erupted into cheers and applause. To top off the play, Conley also drew a foul.

Sophomore guard Thomas Gardner, who also had a big dunk, said he was not surprised to see his teammate jump so high.

“I knew Coop could jump like that,” Gardner said. “I’ve seen a couple highlight tapes of him at VMI and last year he got a couple of dunks.”

Conley wasn’t done, though. About halfway through the first quarter, Conley got the ball at the baseline. He charged toward the basket but instead of laying it in he jumped under the basket for a one-handed reverse dunk and drew another foul.

On the Tigers’ next possession freshman point guard Jason Horton threw and alley-oop to Conley that looked to be off target. Conley tried for it anyway. He laid it off the glass, tied the score at 19 and brought the crowd to its feet.

Conley said he was just trying to do everything he could to keep his team in the game. Gardner said plays like the ones Conley made did much more for the team than add points.

“Those plays are always important intensity-wise and energy-wise,” Gardner said. “Not only does it get the crowd going, it gets ourselves going and the way we help our team is because we get those plays off of defense. We get steals, fast breaks and transitions that really help our offense.”

A few minutes after his tip in, Conley swatted away a shot by Davidson forward Logan Kosmalski in a style resembling former Missouri center Arthur Johnson, who holds the school record for blocks.

Conley finished the night with 18 points, three boards, two steals, a block and an assist, but he was still visibly upset after the game. He said his two missed shots in the final eight seconds upset him the most.

“I had the opportunity but I just came up short,” Conley said. “If I get the opportunity again, I won’t miss.

“Most importantly from this game we learned that you can’t start playing that last 10 minutes of the game. That’s just not going to work. It doesn’t matter who you play against. I think if we keep that in mind we’ll be good this year.”

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