Missouri KO'd in NIT

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Sophomore guard Daniel Horton made certain that the Michigan basketball team's first appearance in postseason play since 2000 would not end quickly.

Horton scored 20 points Tuesday night at Crisler Arena to lead Michigan to a 65-64 victory over Missouri in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.

"We're excited about being in the postseason, but we're not satisfied with just getting there," Horton said. "We're only interested in winning, and we showed that tonight. When you know you could be one (loss) and done, you turn up your focus."

Michigan (19-11) is 8-0 in NIT games played in Crisler Arena. The Wolverines are playing in the NIT for the eighth time in program history.

Missouri (16-14) lost for just the fourth time in its last 11 games.

The Tigers are 1-6 in six NIT appearances. Missouri's loss to Michigan was its third in as many visits to Ann Arbor, and they are 1-4 all-time in games against the Wolverines.

Michigan next will play the winner of Tuesday's first-round game between Oklahoma and Louisiana State. The date, time and location of that game will be announced at the conclusion of the first round.

Second-round games are scheduled to begin Saturday.

Senior forward Bernard Robinson Jr. scored 14 points and freshman guard Dion Harris added 12 for the Wolverines.

Senior center Arthur Johnson scored a game-high 26 points for Missouri. Senior forward Rickey Paulding and junior guard Jason Conley added 10 points each.

"We look at playing in the postseason as (a) program builder, so this win is a tremendous accomplishment for our team," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "Every team dreams of playing in the NCAA Tournament, but we're happy with where we are. Any way you can advance in the postseason is good for our program."

Amaker's first postseason win at Michigan came the expense of his longtime friend and former Duke teammate, Missouri coach Quin Snyder.

"It's a hard thing to go one and out," Snyder said. "We would have liked to have kept going, especially the way Arthur was playing. I said thank you to my seniors. Those were guys who committed to me before I'd ever called a timeout."

Michigan led 32-26 at halftime, but Missouri was able to take advantage of a cold shooting streak by the Wolverines midway through the second half to take a brief lead.

Paulding had been red hot from behind the arc during the Tigers final 10 games of the regular season. But he was held to just a pair of free throws in the first half and connected on his first 3-pointer three minutes into the second half. He hit another long jumper for two points a little more than minute later.

Jason Conley's 3-pointer from the right corner at 15:16 gave Missouri its first lead since the eight-minute mark of the first half. The Tigers increased their lead to 43-38 on a hook by Johnson and two free throws by Josh Kroenke before Michigan cut the lead to 43-40 on a putback by Brent Petway.

The Tigers led 48-40 with 9:56 to play, but the Wolverines went on a 15-6 run to take a 55-54 lead with five minutes remaining. Missouri tied the game three times down the stretch, the last time at 59-59 with 3:28 to play. Horton's running one-hander from the baseline with 21 seconds remaining gave Michigan a 65-62 lead.

The Tigers missed their last shot at a 3-pointer, and Johnson's putback with less than a second remaining closed out the scoring.

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