Sacramento, CA—Of course this Missouri team won the game. Why wouldn’t this happen? The rival, for the record books, was Utah State. The score as recorded on the Wikipedia page for the 2023 NCAA tournament is 76–65. But what’s remarkable about Missouri’s first NCAA tournament win in 13 years is that there was nothing remarkable about it. Because Missouri has won this game over and over again this season.
With 10:46 to go, the Tigers trailed the 10th-seeded Aggies 49–47. Mizzou’s largest lead was six and its largest deficit was two. The Tigers could not put themselves away from Utah State, but they never trailed much on possession.
As Missouri fans chewed their nails and huddled in their living rooms doubting this team once again and talking about putting on their protective gear and getting Mizzoud out again, the Tigers did what they did all along. year done. They went out and won the game.
kobe brown Individual went on a 12–4 run. d’moi hodge Scored the next eight runs. Sean East Made a bucket. nick honor Drilled one three. Everyone got a steal or a rebound or committed a foul. Missouri outscored the Aggies 29–12 in the next 9:36 and celebrated their first NCAA tournament win in the final 70 seconds. dennis gates was a 30-year-old assistant in Nevada and Brown was ten and aden shaw Getting ready to start kindergarten next fall.
“It’s the freedom, the trust and the confidence that we have in each other,” deandre gholston Said. “It’s not always your night. That’s what we preach around the team. Kobe and D’Moi had so much fun hanging out tonight. We needed it. They’re big-time players. But this team, we It all came from somewhere that we needed to score so we have the ability to do that every time.”
Everyone contributed in one way or the other. And this afterthought-filled team from across the country (and beyond) banded together to win another game that wasn’t safe in the closing minutes.
After the career-defining performance, Brown said, “We don’t blink when things go bad.”
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All of them contributed. Everyone. At some point during the Missouri eruption, Trey Gomillion Got up from the bench. He was still in his full warm-up. He didn’t take them off. With a groin injury in and out of the lineup in recent weeks, Gomilian did everything he could to play. he could not.
“I got to have a real conversation with him in the locker room,” dennis gates Said. “I said, if you’re not playing, I need you to be included, as members of my staff.
“That’s Coach Gomillion for you.”
Gomillion walked about 15 feet to reach the gates. He bent over to talk to his coach.
“I think it may have been a call or a play he didn’t agree with,” Gomillion said after the game. “I was just calming him down so that that belief in people was real. That was about it.
If he couldn’t play, he would do what he could.
“It’s tough,” he said in the locker room. “But that’s the card I was dealt so I just have to deal with it and give what I can.”
He did everything. Because that’s what they’ve done all year.
We don’t know what the future of Missouri basketball holds. The present has exceeded everyone’s dreams and expectations; At least the ones outside the locker room. And that would have been true even if the final ten minutes had not gone in Missouri’s favor. No one is ashamed of the 24-10 regular season that put Mizzou back in the national conversation and in the national rankings and the national tournament. None. That would have been awesome, especially after a 12-21 season and a coaching change.
But no one told this team that this is enough. By the time it was over on Thursday morning—or rather afternoon—this group of Tigers was forever etched in the memory of its fans. Is this the best Missouri team ever? Almost certainly not. Will this be the deepest run ever by the Tiger team? While I would not advise anyone to bet against it, they are winning a few more from it. But on Saturday, this team made sure that anyone who has followed the event to the depths of national prominence over the past few years will never forget it.
This team has won the hearts of the entire fanbase. And, of course, that’s 25 wins and a second-round appearance (by the way, they’re going to be favored by 15 seed Princeton to upset Arizona a few hours later on the same court). of course it is. But that’s how they got here. It’s that they’ve done it with a coach many people weren’t sold on and a bunch of players they’d never heard of. It’s that they’ve beaten a bunch of really good teams and never stumbled against anyone else. The point is that he has brought pride, hope and fun back to a program that hasn’t seen much of it for the last ten years and hasn’t maintained what little there has been.
this association? It has made a place in your heart and your memories.
,It’s emotional for me. I actually cried,” Gates said. “My college coaches, some of my teammates were here. My family is here. For me, it was emotional.
“It’s unbelievable,” Gholston said. “It’s something I can’t even describe in words. It’s a historic event, just to bring something into it that I can’t even dream of.”
None of these players had any ties to Missouri prior to last March. Gates got to work and brought most of them in. kobe brown Was here already three years ago. ronnie degre And caleb brown one each. other than that? This team has the closest thing to a true son aden shaw, whose parents both went to Mizzou. Shaw signed cuonzo martinGates stayed and played ten crucial minutes in Thursday’s win.
“I’ve always been around it,” Shaw said. “Finally being a part of it, the fans and all the support we got is great. I feel part of a big family including my teammates. I love it.”
That tournament losing streak? 13 years? 4,746 days? that’s over. It’s dead and buried.
“The day is now zero,” said Shaw.
In fact. It’s another day of a season that will forever be written in Missouri history. But this is not the last day.
“We always say 24 hours,” caleb brown When asked till when the team will celebrate. “But I don’t think we have a 24-hour turnaround this time.”
The next item on the list for a team that keeps checking them off?
Gholston: “Get another one.”
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