OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—When Texas Tech was starting to sputter after the biggest comeback in Big 12 tournament history, No. 14 Missouri still had plenty of energy left for two more of its trademark second-half spurts.
DeMarre Carroll scored 19 points and the Tigers were the only higher-seeded team to win Thursday at the Big 12 tournament, beating Texas Tech 81-60 in the quarterfinals.
“I just think our team is made for this type of setting,” said Mizzou coach Mike Anderson, who installed a frenetic and relentless pressing defense as the cornerstone of his program. “And we’ll find out more out our basketball team because this particular team is going through some uncharted waters at the University of Missouri.”
The Tigers (26-6) ended a three-year drought at the conference tournament, winning for the first time since 2005 and setting up only their third appearance in the semifinals—on Friday against sixth-seeded Oklahoma State.
Missouri watched regular-season champion Kansas, second-seeded Oklahoma and No. 4 seed Kansas State all fall victim to upsets earlier in the day but used runs of 13 and 10 consecutive points to put away Texas Tech (14-19).
Mike Singletary led the Red Raiders with 17 points, one night after he scored 29 straight Texas Tech points during one stretch of the second half, and Nick Okorie scored 13.
J.T. Tiller and Matt Lawrence each added 13 points for third-seeded Missouri. No team seeded lower than No. 3 has ever won the Big 12 tournament.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Missouri—for only the third time in 13 years — benefited from a first-round bye as one of the conference’s top four seeds while Texas Tech was less than 24 hours removed from a 21-point comeback bigger than any other in Big 12 tournament history.
“We just didn’t have enough in the tank,” Red Raiders coach Pat Knight said. “We had enough for a game and a half, but it started showing towards the end.”
Leo Lyons had a tiebreaking two-handed jam and then leaned in for another basket from the right block to start the 13-point run that put Missouri in control early in the second half. Tiller had a tip-in and a pair of free throws in the surge before Zaire Taylor found Carroll under the basket for a layup that made it 48-35 with 14:46 remaining.
The advantage stretched to 16 about a minute later when Tiller beat the defense back for a fast-break layup that turned into a three-point play. And the Tigers’ relentless defense still had one big knockout punch left in it.
Tiller added two of Missouri’s four layups during the 10-0 burst that put the lead at 67-48, and the Tigers eventually led by as much as 22.
“The Texas A&M game took every ounce of energy we had and then coming in to face that, I think in the second half we basically got tired and careless,” Tech guard Alan Voskuil said. “The game got away from there.”
Missouri went 31-for-56 from the field (55 percent), piling up 48 points in the paint and 15 off of turnovers.
None of the current Tigers had ever won a game at the Big 12 tournament.
“It’s the first time I’ve been to the second round of the tournament since I’ve been here, and I didn’t even have to play in the first game. So I was pretty excited about that,” Lawrence said.
“To win the first game since we’ve been here, it’s tremendous. And if there’s a half you want to win, it’s definitely the second half. I think we’ve been doing that all year.”
Singletary scored 10 of his points in the second half, but never got on the kind of roll that gave him a tournament record 43 points the night before. Knight still brought him off of the bench, and he got a nice ovation when he entered for the first time a few minutes in.
“It’s always going to be tough to follow 43 points and the zone I was in,” Singletary said. “I’m just really proud of our team. We fought so hard all year. We battled to the end and you can’t say much more than that.”