Mizzou proves its point to voters

Friday, November 23, 2001

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's only four games into the season, so Clarence Gilbert isn't quite ready to proclaim that Missouri belongs in the top half of the Top 10.

He won't argue with the voters who put the Tigers there, though -- not after No. 5 Missouri came back from an 11-point deficit in the closing minutes Wednesday night to beat No. 9 Iowa 78-77 in the championship game of the Guardians Classic.

"We've played quality. We've proved that we are a really good team," said Gilbert, whose 27 points against the Hawkeyes included the game-winning free throw with eight-tenths of a second left. "Now we can say, 'Hey, we should be (ranked) some number.' What that number may be, I don't know."

Trailing 73-62 with 2:12 left, with Iowa dominating the boards, the Tigers (4-0) appeared headed for a drop in the rankings until Wesley Stokes scored seven points and Gilbert had four in an 11-4 surge that cut Iowa's lead to 73-70 with just over a minute remaining.

Two free throws by Ryan Hogan put Iowa up 77-71 with 41 seconds left, but Missouri tied it on 3-pointers by Kareem Rush -- who started despite breaking his nose in Tuesday night's 75-68 semifinal win over No. 22 Alabama -- and Rickey Paulding, whose game-tying shot came with 24 seconds left.

Then, in the closing seconds, Gilbert, the tournament MVP, went into the corner to rebound a missed shot by Iowa's Glen Worley. Gilbert drove downcourt and was fouled by Worley as he shot from just inside the 3-point line.

He missed his first shot after two timeouts by Iowa (4-1), but after Iowa called a third timeout, he hit the second to complete Missouri's rally.

Gilbert sparkles

Gilbert was 8-for-11 from the line and 5-for-11 from 3-point range for Missouri -- which won despite being outrebounded 37-27.

"Our kids just hung in there," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "This was a game it didn't look like we were supposed to win, but they ended up making some plays defensively to change the game."

But the way Iowa coach Steve Alford saw it, his team got mugged.

"I've been in this business for 11 years, and I've never seen what happened in the last two minutes," he said. "Luke Recker was tackled at the end line ... Luke Recker was tackled on the baseline, and it resulted in a jump ball that they won."

Iowa can't afford to spend much time analyzing Wednesday night's loss, though. The Hawkeyes meet top-ranked Duke on Tuesday in Chicago, in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.

"We don't have a choice; that's who we play," said Recker, who refused to comment on the officiating in the final two minutes. "We just have to regroup and get ready to play again."

Reggie Evans, who led Iowa with 21 points and 11 rebounds, joined Gilbert and Recker on the all-tournament team, along with Memphis' Dajuan Wagner and Alabama's Rod Grizzard.

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