AP Photo: Mizzou's bench watches breathlessly during the final seconds of the Big 12 Championship game.
It was a classic tale of two halves. Oklahoma seemingly couldn't miss a shot in the first half, hitting three-pointers virtually at will.
Missouri found itself down by 21 points at halftime with very little to play for in the second half. After all, the selection committee had already made their choices regarding Oklahoma and Missouri already. Why not go through the motions, shake hands with the Sooners and rest up for the NCAA Tournament?
Why not indeed?
The Tigers came out in the second half believing this game to be their final of the season. Mizzou swarmed Oklahoma on defense forcing turnovers and off-balance shots.
Sooner star guard, Hollis Price, looked like a pinball several times during the final stanza crashing into Travon Bryant screens and trying to drive the lane.
Missouri's renaissance was an entire team effort, but the comments from OU's Kelvin Sampson after the game told the real story, "Arthur Johnson is THE man... Rickey Paulding is THE man...they played great today."
You could easily add Bryant's name to that accounting as well as Jimmy McKinney. Both players hit key outside shots and performed well inside when Missouri needed to sustain their momentum.
Oklahoma went 15+ minutes without scoring a single field goal during the second half. That's right. The #1 seeded Oklahoma Sooners were held scoreless during that stretch, and it was due to Missouri's relentless defensive pressure.
Oklahoma won the game 49-47, but the Sooners' customary swagger was noticably missing after today's game. Yes, they cut down the nets in Dallas, they wore the logo hats, and they mugged for the cameras. However, the Sooners and everybody else who watched this game realized that Missouri didn't lose the game today, as much as they simply ran out of time.
Missouri advances to the NCAA Tournament as a 6th seed in the Midwest Region playing the 11th seed, Southern Illinois University.
Buckle your seatbelts Missouri fans. The ride is starting all over again!