Dixon leaves following rape allegations

Without the senior guard, the men’s basketball team suffered in last-minute situations.

When senior guard Michael Dixon was suspended by Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith on Oct. 22, Haith said Dixon had violated team rules.

Freshman guard Dominique Bull was suspended on similar grounds, but for a separate infraction, Haith said. Bull returned to the team a week later, but Dixon remained out of Missouri’s lineup as the Tigers started their season, winning five of their first six games with their only loss at the hands of eventual national champion Louisville.

Then news of two rape investigations tied to Dixon surfaced in late November and Dixon announced he was going to transfer from MU on Nov. 29.

Missouri went on to win its next five games, but soon after, turned its season into an ode for the controversial sharp-shooter with underwhelming late-game losses that had the Tigers merely treading water in the average-at-best Southeastern Conference instead of a hopeful national championship contender.

The Tigers were blown out of the water at Ole Miss, then embarrassed at then-No. 10 Florida two games later.

Dixon’s departure put undue stress on a Missouri offense already overwhelmed with injuries and saddled NBA-bound point guard Phil Pressey with the Lion’s share of offensive pressure. A phenomenal passer, Pressey forced up ill-advised jumpers to seal losses at Louisiana State, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee instead of feeding a big-time scorer, a role Dixon would have played.

Never a starter in his college career, Dixon earned AP Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2011-12 when Missouri worked its way to a 30-5 season, the best in program history, and to a temporary No. 2 ranking before Norfolk State bounced it from the NCAA tournament in the round of 64.

Dixon averaged 13.5 points per game for the Tigers in 2011-12, best of any player who would return to Haith’s roster the next year, and was second on the team in assists per game (3.3).

But more than statistics can insinuate, Dixon is equipped with a killer instinct that this season’s Tigers lacked. When the clock wound down, Missouri went rigid, opting for long possessions instead of open looks in order to draw out the clock, allowing opponents to climb back into games with solid defense and rebounding.

In the last 10 minutes of the Tigers’ loss to Tennessee, Missouri scored a measly 14 points. In Dixon’s only appearance in the Black & Gold scrimmage, he scored seven points and dished out five assists in the same time frame.

As senior forward Laurence Bowers said on Senior Night, “I told this guy I’d never forget him when I got the mic and that’s Mike Dixon. He’s a part of that class, too, and we love him, but after that, I don’t have too much to say.”

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