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Most upsets involve the favored team stinking it up. That was not the case in this game, and that's what made it so special.
The Missouri Tigers shot nearly 53 percent from the floor and turned the ball over less than Norfolk State. The difference was the rebounding and three-point shooting advantage of the Norfolk State Spartans.
Norfolk State was 10-of-19 from bonus land snagged 12 more rebounds than the Tigers— eight of those were on the offensive glass.
Missouri even had three players with over 20 points in the game. Marcus Denmon, Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon had 20, 20 and 22, respectively.
Well, so did Norfolk State. Senior center Kyle O'Quinn led all scorers with 26 points—12 of those came in the final 10 minutes. O'Quinn also grabbed 14 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks. Needless to say, the man was a beast.
Chris McEachin and Pendarvis Williams both finished with 20 points—and accounted for eight of Norfolk State's 10 three-pointers.
The Spartans led for the first 22 minutes of the game, but Missouri just rode their back the whole time. Only in short stints, did the lead ever increase to more than two points.
Just as the Spartans started to pull away at the end, Missouri scored six unanswered points to tie it back up at 81—with 50 seconds on the clock. Norfolk State scored the next four points, but Missouri's Phil Pressey buried a three-pointer with 11 seconds on the clock to bring it within one point.
Norfolk State's Rodney McCauley would hit a free throw to put them up 86-84.
Hanging on to a two-point lead with three seconds to go, O'Quinn would miss two free throws and give Missouri a chance to win it on a buzzer-beater. On a final attempt, Pressey pulled up a little early and out of balance—only catching iron on the three-point attempt.
A team that many saw making it to the Final Four was eliminated.
Not only was this the best game out of the early-day matchups, it was the first big upset of the tourney—and we all look forward to those. It was also Norfolk State's first win over a ranked opponent since they joined Division I.
God, I love March Madness.