March 8, 2009
Columbia, Mo. -
Missouri Basketball has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence this season, improving from a 16-16 overall mark in 2007-08 to 25-6 and a third place finish in the Big 12 Conference in 2008-09. While Missouri prided itself on being the "ultimate team" this season, several Tigers hauled in awards from the league coaches on Sunday, headlined by senior forward DeMarre Carroll's spot as a First Team All-Big 12 selection.
In addition to Carroll, fellow senior Leo Lyons earned a Third Team All-Big 12 nod, while junior guard J.T. Tiller was named an honorable mention pick.
Tiller was also named the Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the league and was the only unanimous pick to the Big 12's All-Defensive Team. Tiller shared Defensive Player of the Year honors with Kansas' Cole Aldrich, while senior guard Matt Lawrence was named Co-Six Man of the Year with Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn.
Junior transfer Zaire Taylor rounded out the award winners, earning a spot on the Big 12's All-Rookie unit.
Carroll becomes the first Missouri Tiger to earn First Team All-Big 12 honors since Kareem Rush in 2002. The first player in Missouri history to earn First Team All-Big 12 and First Team Academic All-Big 12 recognition in the same season, Carroll led Mizzou in both scoring (17.1) and rebounding (7.3) this year, while chipping in 49 steals and 65 assists. The only Big 12 player to rank among the Top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and steals, Carroll was ultra-consistent throughout his senior campaign, reaching double figures in 14-of-16 Big 12 contests, including five 20-point efforts and four double-doubles. Earlier this week Carroll was named a First Team Academic All-Big 12 pick after recording a 3.70 GPA in graduate school.
Lyons was named to the All-Big 12 Third Team after logging norms of 14.4 points and 5.8 rebounds as a senior. The Kansas City, Kan., native had three double-doubles on the year and scored a career high 30 points on 8-of-11 shooting in Mizzou's home win over Baylor. Lyons was also a consistent force, reaching double figures in 27-of-30 games, including six 20-point scoring performances.
Tiller cleaned up on the awards Sunday afternoon, becoming Missouri's first Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Tiller was a defensive demon for the "Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball", leading the Tigers with 57 steals and six deflections per game. He also took excellent care of the basketball while running the point, dishing a team-leading 112 assists and committing just 49 turnovers. In addition to his Co-Defensive P.O.Y. accolades, Tiller was the only unanimous pick to the Big 12's All-Defensive Team and was an honorable mention selection to the All-Big 12 team.
Senior Matt Lawrence shared Six Man of the Year honors with Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn and was stellar off the pine for the Tigers, averaging 7.5 points on 42 percent three-point shooting in Big 12 play. Lawrence has been a steady presence for Missouri off the bench this season, reaching double figures in five Big 12 outings, including a season high 19 in the win at Oklahoma State. Lawrence recently moved into No. 2 on Missouri's career three-point field goals list, passing Kareem Rush.
The final Tiger to earn league recognition was the junior transfer Taylor. The "Elmer's Glue" of Mizzou this season, Taylor reached double figures in scoring six times in league action, but also ranks among the nation's leaders with a 2.9-to-1 assist/turnover ratio. Taylor also ranks second on the club with 107 assists and third with 47 steals.
Missouri Basketball earned the No. 3 seed in this week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championship in Oklahoma City and will face the winner of Texas A&M - Texas Tech on Thursday (March 12) at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
### MIZZOU BASKETBALL - THE FASTEST 40 MINUTES IN BASKETBALL ###