MUTIGERS

Ten Game-Winners From the Last 20 Years

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With Zaire "Big Shot" Taylor's last-second game-winner Tuesday against Iowa State (by the way, here's Mike Kelly's call of the winner on the Tiger Network courtesy of our friends at Learfield Sports), we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the more memorable game-winning shots in Tiger history which predated Tuesday's heroics. For definition purposes, we describe "game-winning" as a shot which gave Mizzou a lead within the final five seconds of play, something that came with so little time remaining that the opponents had only desperation hopes left. Today's look spans 10 selections which date back through the 1989-1990 season to the present, and we'll take a look later at some of the best Tiger buzzer beaters prior to that.

A big tip of the proverbial cap to resident Tiger historian and uber-fan, Tom Orf, for much of research provided to come up with this listing, which is presented in reverse chronological order

February 9, 2009 - #17 Mizzou 62, #16 Kansas 60

Just five days after Zaire Taylor hit a game-winning three-point play with 5.5 seconds left at #16 Texas (a game which the Tigers eventually won, 69-65), Taylor worked his magic again in dramatic fashion at home in the nation's best rivalry. The Tigers trailed 58-53 in the final minutes, but a 7-0 Tiger run turned the tables in front of a frenzied sellout Mizzou Arena crowd. After KU tied the game on a jumper by Mario Little with :29 seconds left, Mizzou held for the last shot, and Taylor was the hero again as his 15-foot leaner glanced off the rim, high off the backboard and cleanly through the net with just :01.3 seconds left for the winner...

 

March 14, 2003 - Mizzou 60, #23 Oklahoma State 58

In the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Tournament played for the first-time ever in Dallas, Texas, Travon Bryant corralled a loose ball and hit a short jumper as time expired to give Mizzou a thrilling 60-58 win over the 23rd-ranked and 4th-seeded Cowboys. Bryant's jumper sent the 5th-seeded Tigers into the semi-finals against top-seeded Kansas, who the Tigers downed 68-63 to reach the title game 3rd-seeded Oklahoma. Mizzou's bid at becoming the first team to win four games in four days to claim the tournament title fell short against OU by a 49-47 score, but the win against OSU was vital in helping the Tigers claim an NCAA Tournament berth...

December 3, 2001 - #2 Mizzou 69, Saint Louis 67

Freshly anointed with the No. 2 ranking in the nation earlier that day, the 7-0 Tigers took to the Savvis Center floor in St. Louis as heavy favorites over hometown Saint Louis University. The Billikens came to play, however, and they tied the game at 67-all with just :04.8 seconds left on a three-pointer by Marque Perry. Perry's shot came over the outstretched arms of guard Wesley Stokes, but Stokes got revenge when he took the inbounds pass near midcourt and dribbled to the top of the key. Stokes took his jumper over Perry as the clock ticked away, and his shot settled home just before the buzzer to keep MU's unbeaten season alive...

November 21, 2001 -- #5 Mizzou 78, #9 Iowa 77

Playing in the title game of the NABC Guardians Classic in Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., Clarence Gilbert capped an improbable comeback when he hit one of two free throws with eight-tenths of a second left on the clock to give Mizzou a 78-77 win in a battle of two top-10 teams. Mizzou trailed 73-62 with as little as 2:12 left in the game, and Iowa had a 77-71 lead with :41 seconds left, before Kareem Rush and Rickey Paulding tied the game in the final :30 seconds. A mad scramble for a loose ball underneath the Iowa basket gave Mizzou the ball back and Gilbert was fouled by Iowa's Glen Worley as he drove down court for a potential game-winning jump shot. Iowa tried its best to ice Gilbert, taking two time outs before he could try the first free throw, which he missed. After another time out to make Gilbert think about it, he calmly sank the back end of the pair to give Mizzou the tournament title...

March 15, 2001 - Mizzou 70, Georgia 68

Clarence Gilbert became the darling of CBS Sports ' NCAA Tournament coverage in 2001, as he hit a game-winning 15-foot jumper from the corner with nine-tenths of a second left to give Mizzou a 70-68 win in the first round in an evenly-matched #8 vs. #9 seed. The Tigers had held 68-57 lead with just over two minutes remaining, but went cold down the stretch as Georgia closed with an 11-0 scoring run to tie the game with :23 seconds left. With the last shot, Coach Quin Snyder drew up a play designed to go to lead scorer Kareem Rush, but when the Bulldogs double-teamed Rush, he found Gilbert open in the right corner, and Gilbert, who drilled the winner. The win set up the memorable matchup of Mizzou versus #1 Duke in the next round in Greensboro, N.C., which the Blue Devils pulled away late to win, 94-81...

February 4, 1997 - Mizzou 96, #1 Kansas 94 (2 OT)

One of the more improbable upset wins in Tiger history took place at the Hearnes Center as Mizzou, just 12-10 on the year coming in, defeated top-ranked and undefeated Kansas, 96-94 in double overtime on a free-throw jumper by Corey Tate with :05.6 seconds left. Coach Norm Stewart drew up the play to go to Tyron Lee on a clear out, but he was stripped by KU's Jacque Vaughn when he got into the lane, and Tate was the recipient of a fortunate bounce when the ball caromed right to him near the foul line. Tate calmly picked up the ball and made his winner that will guarantee he never has to buy a drink in the state of Missouri again. The win came against a heavily-favored and unbelievably talented group of Jayhawks which included Vaughn, Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce and Scott Pollard, among others.

Skip to about 1:37 for the final possession...

 

February 12, 1994 - #15 Mizzou 72, Oklahoma State 70

Freshman Kelly Thames scooped up a loose ball under the Mizzou basket and laid the ball in from a tough angle over OSU 7-footer Bryant Reeves with :02.1 seconds left to give Mizzou a 72-20 win over Oklahoma State. The win improved Mizzou's record to 18-2 overall and 8-0 in Big Eight play, and kept hope alive for the eventual undefeated conference season which Norm Stewart's team later achieved. Mizzou held a 62-50 lead with 11:34 to play, before Reeves led a Cowboy comeback as he tied the game at 66 on a jumper and at 68 on a pair of free throws before OSU's Fred Burley made one of two free throws to tie the game for the last time, at 70-apiece. On the game-winning play, Big Eight Player of the Year Melvin Booker, who had a game-high 24 points, drove the lane looking for the winning shot, but the ball was knocked out of his hands, off his leg, and appeared headed out of bounds, with the game likely headed toward overtime. But Thames saved the ball from going out, and in one motion rose up from a difficult angle and flicked over the outstretched arms of Reeves for the game-winner...

March 9, 1991 - Mizzou 94, #12 Oklahoma State 92 (2 OT)

Denied a shot at the NCAA Tournament due to NCAA sanctions, the Missouri Tigers made the Big Eight Tournament their championship goal, and in the semi-finals against 12th-ranked Oklahoma State, Mizzou got a pair of game-winning free throws from star Doug Smith with just :02.1 seconds left in the second overtime to claim a thrilling 94-92 win in Kemper Arena. In a back-and-forth affair, Cowboy guard Sean Sutton made a three-pointer in the first overtime to give OSU an 85-84 lead with :47 seconds left, but Mizzou's Chris Heller hit one of two free throws with :26 seconds left to tie the game and force a second extra period. In the second overtime, MU star Anthony Peeler made a three pointer with 1:42 to play to put Mizzou up, 92-89, only to see OSU's John Potter respond with his own three to tie it up at 92-apiece with 1:12 left. That set the stage for Smith, who was fouled with just :02.8 seconds left, and his clutch foul shots put the Tigers into the title game against 13th-ranked Nebraska, who the Tigers defeated, 90-82 to claim the tournament title...

January 31, 1990 - #1 Mizzou 95, Iowa State 93

Playing its third-straight game as the nation's #1-ranked team, Missouri was in a dog fight in Ames, Iowa, where MU hadn't won since 1985. Anthony Peeler was the star, as he went for 42 points - the fourth-highest single-game total in school history at the time - to key the win. But it was Peeler's all-around play - he is also to this day Mizzou's all-time career assist record holder, with 497 - that helped win the game down the stretch, as he found teammate Travis Ford twice in the final minutes that Ford converted into made jumpers. The first came with :49 seconds left when Peeler found Ford in the corner for a mid-range jumper that gave MU a 93-91 lead. After ISU's Victor Alexander tied the game shortly after that with a pair of free throws, Peeler again found Ford in the right corner for a jumper, and Ford nailed the game-winner with :05 seconds left to stave off the upset...

January 16, 1990 - #4 Mizzou 72, Oklahoma State 71

Doug Smith had 23 points and Anthony Peeler hit the second of two free throws with nine seconds left to give 4th-ranked Mizzou a 72-71 win in Stillwater, Okla. Tiger guard Lee Coward converted a conventional three-point play with three minutes left in the game which made it 71-67 in favor of the Tigers, but MU would go into a drought which saw the Cowboys pull even on a pair of Byron Houston free throws with :24 seconds left. Holding the ball for the last shot, Peeler was fouled on a drive with :09 seconds left, and after missing the first, he nailed the second for the lead, and the Tigers held on as OSU's desperation shot was off the mark...

There certainly have been many other late-game winners put up by some great Tigers within the time period of 1989-90 to the present, and while we don't want to diminish those instances, these were the ones which stood out the most in our hearts and minds.

Keep in mind that we're not offering our ranking of which one of these was "best" or "most important," but we'd be very interested in hearing which one our readers have the most fond memories of. If you care to share your thoughts, please send them to us...

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