High-scoring guard Willie Smith spent only two seasons at Missouri, but they sure were memorable. Smith, the school’s leader in career scoring average at 23.9 points per game, saved his best moment for last, dropping 43 points on Michigan in a 95-88 loss in the 1976 Elite Eight.
Few expected much from Missouri in the 1978 NCAA Tournament, largely because the Tigers — who entered with a 14-15 record — qualified solely because they won the Big Eight tournament. But the Tigers proceeded to give Utah all it could handle in the first round, eventually falling 86-79 in double overtime as senior guard Clay Johnson scored a team-high 30 points for Missouri.
Melvin Booker, Missouri’s star senior point guard and the 1994 Big Eight Player of the Year, was brilliant in the Tigers’ 109-96 win over Wisconsin in the second round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament. Booker poured in 35 points, shooting 11 of 14 from the field and seven of seven from the free-throw line.
OT win over Syracuse
With the Tigers on the verge of their first Elite Eight appearance in nearly 20 years, top-seeded Missouri blew an 11-point lead with 5 minutes left to play in 1994 against fourth-seeded Syracuse, which rallied and forced overtime. Booker drilled a three to open the extra period, and teamed up with Kelly Thames as they each scored a team-high 24 points in helping MU pull away for a 98-88 victory.
Edney’s mad dash
It doubles as one of the most painful moments in Mizzou basketball history, but UCLA’s 75-74 second-round win over the Tigers in 1995 NCAA Tournament — dubbed The Tyus Edney Game — is also a testament to how well eighth-seeded Missouri played (and how close the Tigers came to pulling the upset) against the top-seeded Bruins, who needed a full-court drive and basket in 4.7 seconds to avoid a disastrous loss.
Junior guard Clarence Gilbert gave Missouri its first NCAA Tournament win since 1995 by drilling an 18-foot baseline jumper with 0.9 seconds left to give the Tigers a 70-68 victory over Georgia in the first round in 2001.
That’s not all from Gilbert, who didn’t let a dislocated finger keep him from shooting Missouri into the Elite Eight as a senior in 2002. After suffering the injury in the opening moments of MU’s Sweet 16 game vs. eighth-seeded UCLA, Gilbert proceeded to drop 17 of his team-high 23 points in the second half of an 82-73 upset win in which the Tigers became the first No. 12 seed to ever advance to the Elite Eight.
Duo in spotlight
Missouri might have lost to Marquette 101-92 in the second round in 2003, but junior center Arthur Johnson and junior guard Rickey Paulding certainly did all they could. The two combined to score 64 of Missouri’s points, as Paulding scored 36 (with nine three-pointers) while Johnson had 28 points and 18 rebounds, a single-game MU postseason high.
Kim English was a freshman during Missouri’s run to the Elite Eight in 2009, but he sure didn’t act like one in the Tigers’ thrilling 83-79 win over Marquette in the second round. After scoring 15 points in 41/2 minutes in the first half, English — a 65.2-percent free-throw shooter — delivered the win by coming off the bench with 5.5 seconds left to hit two go-ahead free throws for the injured J.T. Tiller.
Marcus Denmon, a 6-foot-3 guard, ended his college career as one of the most prolific scorers in Missouri history. He gave a sampling of things to come as a freshman in 2009, when he drilled a halftime buzzer-beater from half court in the Tigers’ 102-91 win over Memphis in the Sweet 16.