Bell’s defeat a fitting ending to Tigers’ season

The senior guard notched the lowest score of the night and was the first eliminated from the national contest.

Keion Bell dunks the ball during a game versus Southeastern Missouri in December. Bell participated in the State Farm College Slam Dunk Championship on Thursday night and was eliminated in the first round. Maneater File Photo

When Keion Bell dunked over six people at Mizzou Madness, the Tiger basketball program’s festive season kickoff, he said he had never lost a dunk contest. Meanwhile, the Missouri men’s team was days away from a No. 15 preseason ranking.

Twenty weeks later, things have changed.

After falling to Colorado State in the NCAA tournament’s round of 64, the Tigers are thoroughly unranked and Bell, competing in the State Farm College Slam Dunk Championship, will have to surrender his first dunk competition crown.

Perhaps a metaphor of what many feel was an underperforming season for Missouri (23-11), Bell was the first bounced from the dunk contest.

Each of his four attempts to windmill over Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan went awry, sending balls ponging off the back rim or flying uncontrollably out of the Los Angeles native’s hands.

Instead of opting for a simpler attempt with four seconds left on the shot clock, Bell tried for his elaborate flight once more, but was once again off the mark, landing him 18 out of a possible 40 points—the lowest score of the night.

The early exit is just the latest twist for Bell, whose career through college basketball has taken as many turns as the Missouri River.

The Pepperdine transfer made his presence known around Columbia after his monumental flush at Mizzou Madness. Bell scored more than 1,000 points in three years with the Waves, but after his transfer to Missouri, he assumed the role of defensive stalwart for Tigers coach Frank Haith, a role he surely struggled in at times.

Midway through the year, Haith went so far to replace him with freshman Negus Webster-Chan, who announced Tuesday he plans to transfer from the team.

But Bell returned to form as Missouri’s Southeastern Conference schedule rolled around and finished the regular season averaging 10.7 points in a starting role.

But, like Thursday’s dunk contest, Bell finished with an early exit, sitting the entire second half of the Tigers’ loss to CSU, seeing only 12 minutes of action.

Detroit’s Doug Anderson ultimately won the jam-fest with four 40-point dunks to finish his college career a perfect five-for-five in slam-dunk competitions.

He led off his flurry of jams with a backwards tomahawk slam that he brought from between his legs, then pulled out a “Statue of Liberty” windmill to highlight the second round.

Saving his best for last, the 6-foot-6 Anderson drove from the left wing and threw down a 360-degree windmill he took from between his legs, transferring the ball from his left to right hand to make a typically awkward finish look routine.

Anderson dueled with Arizona State’s Carrick Felix who was unable to complete a dunk in the championship round. In the semifinal round, he dunked twice off feeds from Canaan and Hulls off the side of the backboard that sent the sell-out crowd at McCamish Pavilion into a frenzy.

Earlier in the night, Virginia Commonwealth’s Troy Daniels won the men’s three-point shooting contest, then the national overall competition after defeating women’s champion Aulani Sinclair of Indiana.

Daniels out-shot the Hoosier’s Jordan Hulls 23-21 in the men’s final, sealing the win by hitting his entire final rack of five shots, the last being the “money ball” worth two points.

Sinclair took out North Carolina State’s Marissa Kastanek in the women’s final.

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