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Historic hoops

This season’s men’s basketball team takes its place among Mizzou’s best

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  • Story by Ryan Gavin
  • Published: March 30, 2009
Basketball team

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  1. 1943-44: The World War II military draft left Mizzou with a bare-bones squad for the 1943-44 season. But coach George Edwards’ one returning letterman, Dan Pippin, was named an AP All Big Six player. Mizzou, playing at Brewer Fieldhouse, finished 10-9 overall and 5-5 in the Big Six Conference. The Tigers were invited to the eight-team NCAA Tournament and seeded in the Western playoff. After losing 45-35 to Utah in the opening round, Mizzou rebounded to beat Pepperdine 61-46 in the third-place game. Savitar, 1945.
  2. 1975-76: The 1975-76 campaign was the Tigers’ most successful to that point – and possibly ever. Mizzou finished the season 26-5, 12-2 in the Big 8 Conference. Willie Smith, also known as Mr. Magic, was named a first-team All-American and set most of Mizzou’s season and career records. Several other players also earned league recognition. Jim Kennedy (first team) and Kim Anderson (second team) were named to the All-Big 8 team, and Stan Ray was the Big 8 Newcomer of the Year. Photo by Nicholas M. Vedros, Savitar, 1977.
  3. 1975-76: The 1975-76 season marked the school’s first outright Big 8 Championship since 1930, and the Tigers went on to the Elite 8 (32-team field) by beating Washington (69-67) and Texas Tech (86-75) before losing to Michigan (95-88). It was coach Norm Stewart’s ninth season. Photo by Charlie Nye, Savitar, 1977.
  4. 1979-80: This Larry Drew-led 1979-80 team advanced to the Sweet 16 by beating San Jose State 61-51 and Notre Dame 87-84 in overtime before losing to LSU 68-63. Drew captained youngsters Jon Sunvold, Steve Stipanovich and Ricky Frazier, all of whom went on to play in the NBA. The Tigers (25-6, 11-3 Big 8) withstood the absence of two starters, who’d been suspended for cheating on an exam, and lived up to the preseason prognostication of finishing first in conference. Photo by Brian Smith, Savitar, 1981.
  5. 1981-82: Many people consider the 1981-82 Tigers to be the best in school history. Steve Stipanovich, Jon Sunvold and Ricky Frazier had grown up, and along with Marvin “Moon” McCrary, they set out to make a lasting impression. Mizzou started off the season 20-0 and was ranked No. 1 nationally for several weeks. The Tigers finished the season 27-4, won the Big 8 with a 12-2 record and also won the conference tournament. Photo by Gary Allen, Savitar, 1983.
  6. 1981-82: In the NCAA tournament, Mizzou defeated Marquette 73-69 and earned a trip to St. Louis for the Sweet 16. There, the Tigers lost 80-79 to a talented Houston team that featured future NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The Cougars, in what turned out to be the first of the Phi Slamma Jamma teams, went on to the Final Four before losing to the national champion Tar Heels of North Carolina. Photo by Gregg Goldman, Savitar, 1983.
  7. 1988-89: These Tigers – despite finishing second in the Big 8, winning the conference tourney and making the Sweet 16 – were considered by some to be a disappointment. Mizzou had future NBA players Byron Irvin, Doug Smith, Gary Leonard, Anthony Peeler, Lee Coward and Nathan Buntin on the roster. However, coach Norm Stewart unexpectedly left the team when he learned he had colon cancer. The Tigers bowed out in the tournament to one of Syracuse’s best teams, which included four of the nine players whose jerseys have been retired: Rony Seikaly, Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman and Billy Owens. Savitar, 1990.
  8. 1993-94: Mizzou became the first team to go undefeated in Big Six/Big 8 conference play since 1971, posting a 14-0 Big 8 record and going 28-4 overall. The Tigers made the Elite 8 by beating Navy 76-53, Wisconsin 109-96 and Syracuse 98-88 in overtime. Mizzou – with Melvin Booker, Derek Grimm, Jevon Crudup and Kelly Thames on the roster – lost to Arizona’s team with Damon Stoudamire, Khalid Reeves and Chris Miles. Booker was named a second-team All-American, and seven Tigers received postseason individual honors. Coach Norm Stewart was named Big 8 Coach of the Year. Photo by L.G. Patterson, Savitar, 1995.
  9. 2001-02: The Tigers’ previous foray into the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament came following the 2001-02 season in which Kareem Rush, Clarence Gilbert, Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding were on board. Quin Snyder’s squad sneaked in to the tournament with a 22-11 record but knocked off Miami, Ohio State and UCLA en route to the Elite 8. Oklahoma, who had eliminated Mizzou in the Big 12 tournament, knocked the Tigers out of the NCAA tournament, too. Photo by Andrea Taylor, Savitar, 2003.
  10. 2008-09: The Tigers set records for the number of wins in a season (31-7), won their first Big 12 Tournament title and advanced to the Elite 8, going as far as any previous Mizzou team has in the NCAA tournament. Along the way, the Tigers beat 14-seed Cornell, No. 7 Marquette and a heavily favored No. 2 Memphis team. Photo by Shane Epping.
  11. 2008-09: Seniors led the way. DeMarre Carroll was named a first-team All-Big 12 player and was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 team. Matt Lawrence was named to the Academic second team and was co-winner of the Sixth Man award. Leo Lyons was named to the All-Big 12 third team. Close on their heels, junior J.T. Tiller was named Defensive Player of the Year, and junior transfer Zaire Taylor was picked for the All-Rookie team. Photo by Shane Epping.
  12. 2008-09: Coach Mike Anderson firmly established himself in his third season of coaching at Mizzou. From being picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 in the preseason to nearly making the Final Four in a close loss to UConn, the Tigers became one of the biggest surprises in NCAA basketball. With such a strong returning cast, they could go even further next season. Photo by Shane Epping.

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Last updated: Feb. 22, 2012