Tigers jump to 12-0 lead, never look back

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Missouri woke up just after dawn and

regained its early season form at just the right time.

Missouri and coach Quin Snyder have a shot at redemption in the tourney. Talk about a dangerous No. 12 seed -- the Tigers were ranked second in the AP poll in December after a 9-0 start.

Miami, under coach Perry Clark, was a real surprise this season, but Thursday it was all Missouri. The Tigers jumped out to a 12-0 lead and stretched it to 19-5. The 'Canes couldn't battle back from that two-touchdown deficit. What was even more impressive was that Missouri jumped out to a big lead while getting just two first-half points from Kareem Rush, who led the Tigers with 20.1 ppg this season.

The Tigers' quickness prevailed Thursday. Rickey Paulding (16 points) had a great performance, and they also pounded it inside to Arthur Johnson. Missouri did a solid job on the glass as well. Snyder has taken lots of heat for his team's up-and-down season, but he can silence the critics by continuing to march on.

Looking once more like a team that opened 9-0 and climbed to No.

2 in the rankings, the Tigers scored the first 12 points Thursday

and upset No. 5-seeded Miami 93-80 in the West Regional.

"I think this team is playing its best basketball now," said

Missouri coach Quin Snyder, who described the Tigers' early winning

streak as "ignorance and bliss."

After that run, Missouri lost four of its next six games and

steadily dropped in the polls. But Snyder said he could tell the

Tigers went into the tournament in good shape.

"There's been a higher level of commitment," he said.

Missouri (22-11), seeded 12th in the West, will play Ohio State

in the second round after the Buckeyes edged Davidson 69-64.

The Tigers seemed to relish the

10:40 a.m. tipoff. It got a 3-pointer from Ricky Paulding and five

straight points from Clarence Gilbert in the game-starting run.

Gilbert finished with 20 points.

"We got up at 6:45," Gilbert said, noting that's the earliest

he has ever been up for a game.

"We got prepared last night," reserve guard Wesley Stokes

said. "Everybody went to bed early, so the time wasn't a


The Hurricanes (24-8) slumbered their way out of the tournament.

Miami threw the ball away three times in the first three minutes,

lost most of the battles for loose balls and got its first score on

a three-point play by John Salmons with 16:51 remaining in the

first half.

Miami coach Perry Clark discounted the idea the early start

affected the Hurricanes.

"I thought Missouri came out and played with more confidence

and more energy," he said. "They came out and took control of the


Clark added that Missouri's defense took his team out of its


"They really set us up," Clark said. "We only had 10 assists

for the whole game, and they forced us into taking some quick shots

and shots we really didn't want to take."

Quin Snyder has welcomed an investigation into his Missouri program.
Quin Snyder has welcomed an investigation into his Missouri program.

Missouri's starters all scored in double figures, with Paulding

getting 16 points. Travon Bryant had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

"Coach wanted us to go out and be together, play together and

play hard. That's what we did," Gilbert said.

The Hurricanes, who shot 33.8 percent and took some awkward

shots in the second half while trying to rally, never got closer

than 23-18. That came with 9:50 left in the first half on a dunk by

Darius Rice. Missouri's biggest lead was 81-64 with 4:47 left, on

Paulding's 3-pointer.

Missouri, which didn't get a single vote in the final ESPN/USA Today or Associated

Press polls of the season, beat Miami without much help from leading

scorer Kareem Rush.

Rush, averaging 20 points, scored just two in the first half,

although he did finish with 15. He bit his lip with 1:45 left in

the game and needed stitches.

Darius Rice and Elton Tyler led Miami with 17 points each.

Salmons finished with 16.

"It's disappointing," Salmons said. "We had the talent to go

further. They were just the better team today."