When the story of this season is written, if KU fails to extend its string of conference championships to eight, we just might look back at Monday night as the reason. No, KU didn’t play on Monday. Nevertheless, the Jayhawks lost ground to Mizzou, courtesy of Missouri’s own version of Freeman Johns, III.
Tom Penders tweeted, after Myck Kabongo’s hand was grabbed by Matt Pressey while attempting a fairly easy game winning shot: “Texas gets fouled but no call on last play as Mizzou player grabs left arm on baseline shot by UT! Ref swallowed whistle is a cop in MO.” He later identified this individual as Gerry Pollard, while again mentioning his home state. And yet a third time: “Rick Barnes was livid at the end of the game when ex Mizzou Cop, Gerry Pollard swallowed (sic) his whistle.”
When challenged by a Mizzou fan, Penders responded: “Refs were fair most of the game but there is no excuse 4 Gerry Pollard to swallow his whistle on the last play.”
Photographic evidence shows that, at least on this occasion, Penders was correct.
Not sure if $ signs were somehow involved. Still, it would be humorous for UT to be the victim of its own F.J. III moment but for the fact that KU was the REAL victim. Texas is on the Road to Nowhere this season, anyway. The Jayhawks, on the other hand, now must make up this game elsewhere—as in Manhattan or Stillwater, venues where Mizzou was not bailed out by Mr. Johns—err, Pollard.
Not that it would make a difference in most years when the Hawks are head and shoulders above their primary competitors. Although they might well be the best team in the conference again this year, their margin for error is such that a little kindness from strangers would be greatly appreciated.
The Jayhawks’ best opportunity to take their fate into their own hands starts Saturday at Mizzou. Win in Columbia and complete the sweep in Lawrence, and Mizzou can go its merry way into the oblivion of the Southeast Conference without ever having won a Big 12 championship in any worthwhile activity.
As for Baylor, no help there either. A&M did everything but beat the Bears. Incredibly, however, while looking like the better-coached team for all but a few of the game’s 2,400 seconds, they threw up a wild, desperation shot with ten seconds remaining--plenty of time to find the type of high percentage shot that had brought it to within one shot of victory--thus ending any hope of making the Bears sic.
In sum, Mizzou picked up big half a game over both KU and Baylor with its W in Austin. Baylor treaded water with its projected victory in College Station, as did KU over Oklahoma in Lawrence, Iowa St over K-State in Ames (in another game decided in large part by questionable Big 12 officiating), and Okie St in its win in Lubbock.
Tier 1: Baylor, KU, Mizzou
Tier 2: Iowa St, K-State, Texas
Tier 3: Oklahoma, Okie St, Texas A&M
Tier 4: Texas Tech
REAL BIG 12 STANDINGS
Mizzou (7-2) Projected L’s: at KU At Risk games: N/A
KU (8-1) Projected L’s: at Mizzou, at Baylor At Risk games: at K-State
Baylor (7-2) Projected L’s: at Mizzou At Risk games: at UT, at ISU
Iowa St (6-3) Projected L’s: at Baylor, at K-State, at Mizzou
At Risk games: at OU, at Okie St, vs. Baylor
Texas (3-6) Projected L’s: at KU At Risk games: at A&M, at OU, at Okie St, vs. Baylor
K-State (4-5) Projected L’s: at Texas, at Baylor, at Mizzou At Risk games: vs. KU, at A&M
Oklahoma (3-6) Projected L’s: vs. Mizzou, at ISU, at Baylor, at Texas
At Risk games: vs. ISU, at Tech, vs. Texas
Okie St (4-5) Projected L’s: vs. Baylor, at KU, at Mizzou, at OU, vs. KU, at K-State
At Risk games: vs. ISU, vs. Texas
Texas A&M (3-6) Projected L’s: at K-State, at ISU, vs. Mizzou, vs. KU, at Okie St, at OU
At Risk games: vs. UT, at Tech, vs. K-State
Texas Tech (0-9) Projected L’s: at Texas, at K-State, at KU, At ISU, vs. Texas, at Baylor, vs. Mizzou
At Risk games: vs. OU, vs. A&M
ON THE TUBE
Baylor at Okie St***1/2: (12:30p.m.—Big 12 Network) (Projected W: Baylor)
Can Okie St take out its second contender at Home? It certainly isn’t doing anything productive on the Road in any town not called Lubbock.
Texas A&M at K-State ***1/2: (3:00p.m.—Big 12 Network) (Projected W: K-State)
A must win game for K-State. And not one that is automatic the way A&M has been playing recently.
Iowa St at Oklahoma***1/2: (5:00p.m.—ESPN2) (At-risk game)
How important is Hilton Coliseum to ISU? As important, for example, as Royce White? We might well know by the end of this game.
Texas Tech at Texas*: (6:00p.m.—LHN) (Projected W: Texas)
Good news for Texas. This game will not be decided on the game’s final possession.
KU at Mizzou *****: (8:00p.m.—ESPN) (Projected W: MU)
Bill Self has a history of success against gimmick teams like Mizzou. This game, however, presents two unique challenges: First, it is in Columbia, where lesser Mizzou teams have found ways to upset better KU teams than this one. This Mizzou team is, in fact, comfortably unbeaten at Home.
Second, Mizzou is not just a gimmick team this year. Whether attributable to Frank Haith, experience, or a convergence of the fates, Mizzou has a smart, good shooting team that plays better as a unit than their talent would suggest—better by far than any Mizzou team in recent memory (as in those coached by Mike Anderson and Quin Snyder.)
Still, Mizzou is not overpowering. They are the epitome of a finesse team. if both teams stay out of foul trouble, the Hawks will prevail if they dominate inside on both ends of the floor, taking a minimum of three pointers and forcing Mizzou to take a maximum. Mizzou has a plethora of good shooters, but not good enough to carry it for 40 minutes against a team that is more physical, better coached, and has heard of defense. Especially at crunch time.
Then again, there is always the Home Court thing, which is kinda important in the REAL world. . .