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Missouri survives Marquette rally to advance to NCAA Tournament round of 16

BOISE, Idaho — Missouri freshman guard Kim English said he didn't feel the least bit nervous Sunday when he got the call to step to the line with the game against Marquette and his team's NCAA Tournament life on the line.

"Once I saw he (coach Mike Anderson) had faith in me, I just knew I had to do it for him, for my teammates, for my university, for the state of Missouri," he said.

English, only a 68 percent free-throw shooter but inserted for junior guard J.T. Tiller (76 percent) who injured his right (shooting) wrist as he was fouled on a drive, made two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to break a tie and help his team pull out an 83-79 win.

The No. 3-seeded Tigers (30-6), who have set a school record for wins, advanced to the round of 16 in Glendale, Ariz., on Thursday when they meet Memphis.

Missouri last made it this far in 2002 when it reached the Elite Eight, but it had a chance to do it again in 2003 only to lose a thriller in the second round to Marquette. This time, Marquette didn't have Dwyane Wade.

But it did have senior guard Jerel McNeal, who had a career-high 30, senior guard Wesley Matthews (24 points) and junior forward Lazar Hayward (13 points and 11 rebounds). And although down by as many as 16 late in the first half, that trio, plus the psychological lift provided by senior guard Dominic James (back for the first time since breaking his left foot on Feb. 25 but held scoreless), helped the Golden Eagles rally for a 78-74 lead with 1:59 left.

That's when Missouri junior guard Zaire Taylor called his teammates into a huddle. "We've been here before," he said, referring to hard-fought wins over Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas.

That sparked the team as Tiller hit two free throws and senior forward Leo Lyons followed with a three-point play for a 79-78 lead. McNeal hit a free throw to tie it before Tiller drew a foul and set the stage for English.

"I had that thought" about his percentage, Anderson said. "But I also had the instinct, the intuitiveness to say, 'Hey. This guy's been on a roll. I think he's feeling it.' "

Hayward then was called for stepping over the line on the inbounds, forcing Marquette (25-10) to foul.

Missouri survives Marquette rally to advance to NCAA Tournament round of 16 03/22/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:20am]
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