The game did not count, and the outcome had no effect on records or postseason position. And yet, Mizzou Arena was electric on Saturday afternoon.
The Columbia basketball community filed into Mizzou Arena to take in the first Carroll & Bowers Alumni Game, organized by former Missouri basketball players DeMarre Carroll and Laurence Bowers.
“It was a great turnout, and it was amazing,” said Carroll, who was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Brooklyn Nets this offseason. “Hopefully we can make this an annual thing. … I feel like Missouri is my home and it’s just amazing to come back.”
Carroll did not play in the game, but he gave commentary throughout and took credit for drafting such a talented team.
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Bowers, who signed a contract with Trieste in Italy on Friday, said the alumni game had raised up to $40,000 prior to the start of the game. All of the money goes directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbia, Granny’s House and The Carroll Family Foundation.
“I am glad that DeMarre and I got together to do something like this because our university needed it,” Bowers said. “I think this will be the talk of the town for a little bit, and that’s what this is about.
“It’s not about the glitz and the glam for us players, it’s about what we can do for the University of Missouri and the city of Columbia.”
Both rosters, which were selected by Bowers and Carroll, were loaded with former Mizzou basketball and football stars, including current NFL players Kony Ealy, Sean Weatherspoon and William Moore.
“Most of these football guys can play a little basketball, too,” Carroll said. “It’s pretty amazing, and I am just happy they came back.”
As the game wore on, players saw the rust fade away, and for an afternoon, it was just like old times as Ricardo Ratliffe, Brian Grawer, Melvin Booker and Ricky Paulding poured in basket after basket.
‘This was my first time playing on this court, because I played across the street,” Booker said. “That’s how old I am, but it was fun to get out here and see some of my old fans.
“I wanted to score 30 points, but that didn’t happen.”
Booker finished with 13 points, and he watched Team Carroll run away with the game in the second half, defeating Team Bowers 137-116.
Ratliffe, who last played professionally in the Philippines, led all scorers with 39 points. Bowers finished with 21, and Grawer had 18 on six three-pointers.
Although Team Carroll took home the victory, it was former football player Jerrell Jackson who stole the show, stringing together highlight reel dunk after highlight reel dunk.
“I knew this was coming up, so I was like, ‘Let me work on my vertical because I know I can’t shoot,’ ” Jackson said. “It’s fun to come out here and compete. It’s been awhile since I heard that MIZ-chant, and that was exciting to hear.”
Jackson was not the only one who enjoyed the lively crowd on Saturday. Several current Mizzou players showed their support of the game, and junior point guard Terrence Phillips went as far as tweeting “Feels good to see people back in Mizzou Arena.”
“I am very excited (for the season), and I am expecting big things out of them,” Carroll said. “I think we are headed in the right direction.”