A loud pop could be heard inside Greensboro Coliseum and the lights went out as Missouri took on West Virginia in an NCAA Tournament East Region game in 1992.
But Tigers forward Jeff Warren never heard a whistle. He collected the ball, went upcourt and knocked in a layup in the dark. The basket didn’t count, and the television talent had a laugh, but the play spoke volumes about the player always looking for an advantage.
Warren died Friday in Kansas City, losing his battle with lymphoma. He was 44.
Warren played on some terrific Mizzou teams coached by Norm Stewart, lettering from 1990 to 1993. As a freshman, the Tigers were ranked first nationally two different times for a total of four weeks.
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His 1991 and 1993 teams won the Big Eight Tournament, and three of the four teams played in the NCAA Tournament.
“He was a hard-working player and he was a winner,” said Missouri coach Kim Anderson, who was an assistant coach on most of Warren’s teams. “He was so much fun to coach, not only with the way he played but how he carried himself and type of person he was.
“This is such a sad day.”
Warren, a 6-foot-8 frontliner from Litchfield, Mich., averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in his career. His best season was in 1992, when he averaged 9.6 points and 6.0 rebounds and set a school record with 24 consecutive field goals made.
“He was the kind of player you don’t see much of anymore, and I mean that in the best way,” Anderson said. “He gave you everything, and he helped make your team better.”