Missouri fell in the first round of the NIT for the second straight year, but there weren’t very many fans around to see it.
Just 5,997 fans showed up for the match-up between Missouri and DePaul at Mizzou Arena, the lowest attendance for a men’s basketball game this season.
The lower deck of Mizzou Arena appeared to be mostly full but people were scarce in the upper deck and box seats.
Missouri guard Jimmy McKinney said he couldn’t really tell there were so few people at the game. And it was no excuse for not playing with energy.
“The crowd was in it,” McKinney said. “I thought it was pretty loud. We just couldn’t stop them.”
Sophomore guard Thomas Gardner agreed with McKinney, saying he felt the crowd supported the Tigers the whole game.
“I’m just thankful to have fans come out and support us,” Gardner said. “It’s been an up-and-down season, and they stayed with us.
“Just for them to come out and show their support tonight really shows how important it is, our team is, not only for ourselves but we want something that’s bigger than ourselves for our alumni and community.”
MASCOT SHOWDOWN: During a timeout midway through the first half, the student section got a little louder than normal.
The fans were encouraging Truman the Tiger to fight DePaul’s Blue Demon mascot. The mascots feigned a fight while Truman did his best to get the crowd into it. Every time the Blue Demon approached, Truman put his hand into the air signaling for the crowd to get loader. When it did the Blue Demon backed down.
Nothing ever came of the friendly banter between the two, however.
HALFTIME DANCETIME: During the halftime of a basketball game at Mizzou Arena there are usually games and contests.
Once in a while, the Golden Girls perform. For the first round of the NIT, things were changed a bit. There were no contests or games.
Instead, the Golden Girls put on a dance performance to a mix of rock and pop songs, much to the delight of the crowd.
Then DePaul’s dance squad took the floor and was immediately booed by the student section. The six dancers shrugged off the jeers and performed to a lively Latin mix.
The jeering was replaced with cheers and applause when the dancers jogged off the court.