Missouri 70, Nebraska 67
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Linas Kleiza scored 26 points to lead Missouri past Nebraska 70-67 in the first round of the Big 12 tournament Thursday.
Joe McCray, minutes after breaking the Big 12 freshman record for 3-pointers in a season, launched one from behind the arc with 3 seconds left. But it rattled in and out, giving the Tigers their third victory this season over the Huskers.
Kleiza, the Tigers’ leading scorer and rebounder, was held in check by Nebraska’s zone defense until he finally hit a short jumper late in the first half. His 26 points were the most scored in a Big 12 tournament game against Nebraska (14-14), which has lost seven tournament games in a row and six straight in the first round.
In the semifinals Friday, the Tigers (16-15) will play conference co-champion Oklahoma, which lost 68-65 in overtime at Missouri on Feb. 12.
After Kleiza’s two free throws gave Missouri a 69-62 lead with 1:56 to go, McCray hit his record-breaking 3-pointer, giving him 80 for the year to break the old mark of 79 held by Jeff Boschee of Kansas and Bernard King of Texas A&M. Then Jake Muhleisen got a put-back that made it 69-67.
With 9 seconds left, Kleiza rebounded a miss by Jason Dourisseau and was fouled. At that point, he was 10-for-10 from the line, but he missed his first and then made his second, giving McCray a shot at a tie.
McCray had 20 points and Dourisseau had 18 for the Huskers, who had 10 turnovers in the first half but none in the second.
Thomas Gardner had 13 for Missouri, which won for only the second time this year away from home.
Kleiza’s first bucket put Missouri ahead 25-18, then the 6-foot-8 junior scored the next five points.
After Missouri took a 32-25 halftime lead, Kleiza started the second half with a three-point play, a 3-pointer and a contested 6-footer he banked home for a 40-25 lead.
Charles Richardson’s two free throws started a 14-6 run that brought Nebraska to within 57-52. A few minutes later, McCray made a pair of foul shots that sliced the lead to 63-59.