The result for Missouri (29-4) is that the Tigers will take on Baylor (27-6), surprise winners over Kansas in the first semifinal, in the final game of the Big 12 Championship. The Bears will be seeking the first championship by a Texas school in the tournament's 16-year history.
For Texas, all there is to do now is wait, and hope. Hope that the Longhorns' quarterfinal victory over Iowa State, the Big 12's third-best team, was enough. Hope that the NCAA Tournament committee will favor a team beloved by statisticians like KenPom — the 20-13 Longhorns are ranked 27th in the nation on Ken Pomeroy's site — more than the team that struggled to gain key wins this year. The Longhorns had a chance to beat every team in the Big 12 this year, but fell short late against many of the top squads.
The same was true of Missouri, which beat Texas by a point in Austin, thanks to a non-call of a foul — later confirmed by the head of Big 12 officials — on Myck Kabongo late.
But in Kansas City, the Tigers didn't leave it up to the referees. Missouri led by three baskets or more for most of the day, and even when Texas cut it close, the Longhorns couldn't finish the deal. A Kim English layup gave Missouri the edge at 8-6 with 15:03 left to go in the first half, and the Longhorns never led, or were tied, again.
In fact, with the way the sweet-shooting Tigers came out of the gate, Texas had to consider itself somewhat lucky to go into halftime only down seven at 39-32, and the Longhorns had to close the first half on a 6-0 burst in the final three minutes to do so.
If you let the Longhorns stick around long enough, they're going to make a run, and that's precisely what Texas did in cutting the lead to a four-point advantage at 45-41 after an acrobatic layup by J'Covan Brown. But Brown went crashing into the photographers, and witnesses said he cracked his head on a camera. Writhing in pain, he went to the bench, and the Tigers quickly pushed the lead back up into double digits.
The Longhorns never cut the lead into single-digits again, though Missouri had its own injury problem when English collided with Jonathan Holmes, suffering what appeared to be a nasty thigh bruise. Good news for both teams: both players eventually returned to the game.
Even with the missed time, English was magnificent, hitting 9-of-10 shots and 2-of-2 free throws to score an ultra-efficient 23. That tied him for game-high honors with Phil Pressey, who scored 23 and dished out four assists. Ricardo Ratliffe scored 18 points and had 14 rebounds and three blocks, while Michael Dixon chipped in 10 points and three assists from the bench. Texas held Marcus Denmon to just two points on 0-of-10 shooting, though Denmon did have three steals.
Brown paced the Longhorns with 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Holmes and Sheldon McCellan each had 10 points, while Clint Chapman had nine points and eight rebounds. Kabongo scored nine, dished out five assists and had just one turnover.
The Tigers swept the Longhorns on the season, and will now play in the Big 12 title game. The Longhorns, meanwhile, will be tuned into the TV on Selection Sunday to find out their fate. Several national writers, including Joe Lunardi of ESPN and Andy Glockner of Sports Illustrated, have said they believe the Longhorns are in.