Well, this Big 12 basketball tournament championship is one for the history books. Either the Missouri Tigers will exit the conference on a winning note, or the Baylor Bears will become the first Texas team to win the tournament in its 16-year history.
Including today's game Texas schools have made up over half of the championship games, placing teams in 9 of 16 finals, but the Lone Star State is 0-8 in their previous appearances, including a 73-60 Mizzou win over Baylor in 2009. That game is of significance, because seven guys suiting up tonight were freshman on teams that competed in that final. Two of those guys, Mizzou's Kim English (7 points) and Baylor's Anthony Jones (3 points) scored in that game, but for Mizzou Marcus Denmon (11 minutes, no points), Steve Moore and Jarrett Sutton were in uniform, while Quincy Acy and Fred Ellis also watched from the bench.
But those Baylor and Mizzou teams were different than today's teams. For Mizzou, they relied on interior play of DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, while today's Tigers have utilized sharp outside shooting to bring them to a school best 29-4 record.
In reversed roles, the 2008-09 Bears were more guard heavy than they are today. Tweety Carter, Curtis Jerrells, Henry Dugat and LaceDarius Dunn lead a guard heavy attack, while today's Bears use the height of Perry Jones III, Anthony Jones, Quincy Miller and Acy inside to free up Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip and AJ Walton on the outside.
And while Baylor (27-6) spoiled the highly anticipated "three-match" between Mizzou and the Kansas Jayhawks, tonight's game is of no less significance for the Tigers.
"We would have played Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, anybody," English told the AP. "We just wanted to win the Big 12. We are prepared to beat Baylor (Saturday) and try our best."
Baylor, who came into the season highly ranked, and didn't quite meet expectations, finishing fourth in the conference, had their sights focused on righting the ship at the right time. "We came out here and wanted to get respect," Heslip said in a CBS Sports story. "We had a mindset in this tournament that we were going to do something different."
So in order for Baylor to become the first Texas team to cut down the Big 12 championship nets, they need to see the Perry Jones that has been on fire this tournament. In his previous two games against Mizzou, Jones has scored a combined 12 points, almost two points less than his average per game this season (13.9 ppg).
They also need Quincy Miller to continue to dominate Mizzou's interior. In those two Mizzou wins, Miller has scored 29 and 20 points, while shooting over 70% from the field.
For Missouri to cut the nets down twice in 4 years, they need Marcus Denmon to show up. The second leading scorer in the conference has held without a field gaol in yesterday's win against Texas. While English and Phil Pressey (23 points apiece) picked up Denmon's slack, it will be hard pressed for the Tigers to win without Denmon scoring double-digits.
A rundown of all Big 12 Championship scores is available after The Jump.
|Year||Champion (Seed)||Runner-up (Seed)|
|1997||(1) Kansas 87||(10) Missouri 60|
|1998||(1) Kansas 72||(3) Oklahoma 58|
|1999||(3) Kansas 53||(5) Oklahoma State 37|
|2000||(1) Iowa State 70||(3) Oklahoma 58|
|2001||(3) Oklahoma 54||(4) Texas 45|
|2002||(2) Oklahoma 64||(1) Kansas 55|
|2003||(3) Oklahoma 49||(5) Missouri 47|
|2004||(1) Oklahoma State 65||(2) Texas 49|
|2005||(3) Oklahoma State 72||(4) Texas Tech 68|
|2006||(2) Kansas 80||(1) Texas 68|
|2007||(1) Kansas 88||(3) Texas 84|
|2008||(2) Kansas 84||(1) Texas 74|
|2009||(3) Missouri 73||(9) Baylor 60|
|2010||(1) Kansas 72||(2) Kansas State 64|
|2011||(1) Kansas 85||(2) Texas 73|