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March 8, 2012
KANSAS CITY--It is fair to say the Missouri Tigers came to Kansas City looking to make a statement. Round one of that statement came in the form of an 88-70 win over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals that was not nearly that close.
"Huge," Michael Dixon Jr. said of the Big 12 Tournament's import to the Tigers. "We want to win a championship."
"It's the most important thing," Andrew Jones said. "We know what a Big 12 championship means. March is all about momentum and the kind of momentum that would give us going into the NCAA Tournament would be huge."
There is always that. Ten teams came to Kansas City with designs on taking home a trophy. But for the Tigers, there is a little something extra.
"We need to go out of the Big 12 with a bang and win a championship because nobody wants us to," Jones said. "But that's fine with us."
"Of course, they don't want us and A&M to win it," Ricardo Ratliffe said. "We're just going to come out and try to play our game. This is Kansas City, Missouri so we're basically still at home."
If Kansas coach Bill Self was trying to send a message earlier this week when he said Kansas City was more of a Kansas and Kansas State town than a Missouri town, consider that message received.
"I think he was just trying to poke a little fun at us," Dixon said. "That's his opinion. This is Kansas City, Missouri last time I checked."
The Tigers have played three games in Kansas City this season. They have beaten Cal, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State by a combined 86 points. None of the three was a game after halftime.
"We are in Kansas City, Missouri. It's home for me," Marcus Denmon said. "I think Missouri fans come out great here."
Asked for his response to Self's comments, the most vocal Tiger made his point without responding directly.
"Marcus comes home. He was born and raised in Kansas City. Mike Dixon, Steve Moore, Jarrett Sutton, Andrew Jones. The city has kind of adopted me," Kim English said. "It's our city."
With two more wins, the Tigers can validate that statement with a title.
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