The burnt orange of Texas was blacked out Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena. In their annual Black Out Game, the Tigers took down the 15th-ranked Longhorns 82-77.
“I thought our guys came out and really took it at Texas,” coach Mike Anderson said. “Texas is an outstanding basketball team. But our defense was the difference in this game. Our bench guys came in and played huge for us: (freshman guard) Michael Dixon, (sophomore guard) Miguel Paul, (sophomore forward) Laurence Bowers. Those guys came in and gave us that quickness we needed.”
The Tigers needed some sort of spark. After Missouri zipped out to an 11-1 advantage, shooting woes stung the Tigers, who clung to a 32-31 lead at halftime. Texas quickly gained its first lead of the game, 33-32, early in the second half.
The two teams traded blows to open play in the second half, and the lead changed six times. But with the play-making ability of sophomore guard Kim English, the Tigers were able to take the lead for good.
In a five-minute tear in the second half, English netted nine points and set up an alley-oop to Dixon as an exclamation point.
“It was an important time because Texas is a team that can score fast,” English said. “So with our defense, we still wanted to score fast as well.”
With the game knotted at 40-40, English hit a 3-pointer at 15:58 to put the Tigers up for 43-40. They would never trail in the game again.
“I thought Kimmie played probably the most productive 23 minutes he’s played here,” Anderson said. “He let the game come to him and made some big, big plays. And that’s what it’s all about.”
His teammates took notice of how hot English was Wednesday night.
“Man, he just put us on his back, carrying us offensively, really putting a fire under us. He really got a going,” senior guard J.T. Tiller said.
Other Tigers stepped up as well. Senior forward Keith Ramsey, nursing a sore ankle, logged 37 minutes and rewarded Anderson and the rest of the team with 12 points and 11 rebounds — the first double-double of his career.
“He’s a senior, and that’s what seniors do,” Anderson said. “There are only so many games left in his career. That being said, I think it’s important for him to come out and showcase the ability that he has. I think he wants it.”
Missouri’s defense came through time and again against Texas. The team forced 18 turnovers and stole the ball 10 times. In addition, the Tigers caused problems all night for Longhorns big man, senior center Dexter Pittman, who failed to get off one shot.
“Pittman was so worried about us doubling him and trying to get a shot off real quick that he kept traveling,” Ramsey said. “He didn’t know what was coming at him, so it worked out for us.”
Missouri’s constant defensive pressure might have been the difference in Wednesday’s contest.
“Our pressure really got to them,” Tiller said. “It really started to take place in the second half. In the last 10 minutes, we could really see that we were starting to wear on them.”