KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ Missouri’s guard tandem of Phil Pressey and Kim English cut loose early and often to deny Texas the opportunity to join No. 12 Baylor in a Lone Star State showdown in Saturday’s championship game of the Big 12 Tournament.
The fifth-ranked Tigers outlasted the Longhorns, 81-67, tonight at the Sprint Center, with Pressey and English both contributing a game-high 23 points and center Ricardo Ratliffe adding 18. It marked the third time in three meetings for Missouri (29-4) to defeat Texas (20-13), which must wait until Sunday to learn if the Longhorns will be a part of the NCAA Tournament for a 14th consecutive season.
Most projections tonight have the Longhorns receiving an at-large berth and being a No. 12 seed when the bracket for the 68-team field is announced Sunday.
Although the Longhorns grabbed an early 6-2 lead against the Tigers, it quickly disappeared. Missouri took the lead for keeps, 8-6, on English’s layup with 15:03 left in the first half and built the margin to double digits before Texas cut the margin to 39-32 at the half.
But Missouri controlled the momentum and the tempo in the second half, keeping the lead in double figures throughout much of the half. Texas guard J’Covan Brown led the Longhorns with 21 points.
Texas’ loss to Missouri gave the Longhorns a 1-9 mark against Top 25 opponents this season. But Texas, which moved up to No. 45 in the latest RPI rankings after Thursday’s 71-65 victory over Iowa State, has four victories this season over teams in the Top 50 of the RPI: two over Iowa State, one over Kansas State and one over Temple.
Missouri will meet Baylor at 5 p.m. in Saturday’s tournament finals at the Sprint Center. Baylor upset No. 3 Kansas, 81-72, in tonight’s other semifinal contest.