This time, break goes Tigers' way

It hasn't been this way too much for Missouri, getting its way at the end of games. Whether it's been a Brian Boddicker 3-pointer or a damaging turnover in the last minute, the close ones certainly haven't belonged to the Tigers. But on Tuesday, the Tigers outlasted Oklahoma State, and hey, they got a break or two along the way.

As the announcer screamed "Tigers win" and the fans rushed the Hearnes Center court after the Tigers' 93-92 marathon double-overtime win against Oklahoma State, Missouri forward Travon Bryant simply lay on the court with his arms extended.

"I was tired, man," Bryant said.

Perhaps more surprising than the Tigers' win is how it ended, with John Lucas' last-second shot in double overtime breezing past Bryant's hand and then hitting the back of the rim.

"Those are shots that (Lucas has) made," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "He made a bunch of them tonight. But, you know, we got a break."

It's the kind of break that hasn't gone Missouri's way too much this season. Remember Brian Boddicker's 3-pointer to send Texas into overtime at Hearnes? Those kind of breaks have been going anywhere but the Tigers' direction, and on Tuesday, Missouri got several of them.

That is, after it blew a nine-point lead in the last four minutes.

As Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton's perfectly drawn-up full-court press whittled away at the Tigers' patience and the lead, it seemed like this one was going to be just another close one the Tigers couldn't close out. The Cowboys tied it up at 71 with 1:28 to play, and then Arthur Johnson made two free throws to put the Tigers up two.

But the Cowboys scored on an Ivan McFarlin layup with 9.3 seconds. It seemed either Bryant fouled him or McFarlin traveled because Bryant never touched the ball. But the referees didn't call either, and Snyder clearly showed his disappointment with the call on the court. It was again the kind of break Missouri couldn't get, especially considering Thomas Gardner's wide-open three at the end of regulation missed off the rim, and Jason Conley's rebound put-back was about a second too late.

Then the Cowboys pulled ahead in the overtime, and when Lucas hit two free throws to go up 82-79 with 32.5 seconds left, Missouri really needed some long-lost heroics. And Conley's wild, Clarence Gilbert-esque 3-pointer with 27 seconds left wasn't the solution.

But Gardner got the rebound, and then took another ill-advised 3-pointer with 22.4 seconds left.

"I was calling for it," Tiger senior Rickey Paulding said. "He heard me calling for it."

But the thing is, it went in. The Tigers had to be as shocked as anyone, but not Gardner, who had redemption on his mind.

"I had a chance to win the game earlier, and I was just saying to myself as I was sitting on the bench after the first one, if I got another chance, I was going to take it and knock it down," he said.

But of all things shocking Tuesday, perhaps the most was when Lucas' 3-pointer, the kind of shot he was making all day to get 30 points, didn't go in.

"I got a little bit of it, but obviously I didn't get enough of it, but the only thing I could do was contest the shot," Bryant said. "I just played hard ‘D'."

Maybe the most important part was the last part of what Bryant said: that is, maybe it wasn't a break at all.


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