Forgive Missouri men’s basketball coach Quin Snyder if he sees Texas coach Rick Barnes in his nightmares this week.
Snyder saw Barnes everywhere he looked on Saturday at the Erwin Center, literally.
The University of Texas and Capital Metro, Austin’s mass transit system, distributed 8,000 paper masks of Barnes’ smiling face to Longhorns fans before the game.
Texas defeated Missouri 63-51, but then that usually happens with just one Rick Barnes in the building, let alone thousands.
In his seven seasons as coach of the Longhorns, Barnes has defeated Missouri seven times and lost once.
On Saturday, Barnes coached his team back from a terrible first half in which the Longhorns shot 19 percent and trailed by as many as six.
His players said Barnes’ halftime speech turned the game around.
“It was a talk of talks,” Texas center Jason Klotz said. “Coach said we had no energy. We came out flat. We were not energized. It looked like they wanted it more than us. Coach said whoever wants it the most and plays the hardest is going to win.”
The Longhorns played harder in the second half, shooting 70 percent from the field and edging one game closer to another NCAA tournament bid. Barnes has not failed to make the tournament in his time at Texas.
“I think you have to give Missouri credit (for Texas’ first half shooting),” Barnes said. “Their defense was good. They’re playing for a lot as well. This time of year, there aren’t a lot of easy possessions to be had. Missouri came in here with four straight wins, and that’s not happening because they’re just going through the motions.”
The comeback was just the latest in a series of crushing blows Barnes has dealt Missouri through the years.
Texas’ Brian Boddicker hit a last-second shot to force overtime against the Tigers last year. Missouri lost 75-69 in Columbia on Jan. 20, 2004. Texas went on to the Sweet 16. The Tigers went on to the National Invitational Tournament. Had Missouri upset the Longhorns, the Tigers would have had a good chance at an NCAA selection.
“That shot still haunts me,” Snyder said. “I still have nightmares about that shot.”
This year, Missouri is playing for any shot at a postseason. A win against Texas would have helped the Tigers chances for an NIT bid.
If Missouri had beaten the Longhorns, won out in its final two games against Iowa State and Kansas, and had a decent showing in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, an NCAA appearance could have been a possibility.
“We’ve been conscious of it,” Missouri guard Jimmy McKinney said. “We were conscious of it before this game. If we want to have a postseason, we’ve got to win these games. That’s all there is. We’ve just got a lot of holes in our team. Once we find the plugs and fill in the open spots, we’ll be fine.”