Illinois, Oklahoma State, Missouri score big wins


With just five weeks until Selection Sunday each win could mean the difference between being on the bubble or being firmly in or out of the NCAA Tournament. 

While most ranked teams will make the NCAA Tournament, wins like Missouri’s in a Top-2 SEC matchup against Alabama, 68-65, have a major impact on the seeding that could pave the way for success or failure in March. 

All the winners and losers Saturday:

Winners

Missouri: The No. 17 Tigers survived a 21-2 stretch from No. 7 and SEC leader Alabama to secure their third win over a ranked opponent this season. The Tigers (13-3, 6-3) have now won three close games in a row thanks to one of the best defenses in the SEC and an offense led by Dru Smith. Smith finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists against Alabama, which had its 10-game SEC winning streak snapped. 

Tigers forward Mitchell Smith celebrates after blocking a critical shot in the last few seconds against the Crimson Tide.

Oklahoma State: The No. 24 Cowboys, fresh off of a close loss on the road to TCU got a statement win; this time against No. 6 Texas, 75-67. Projected No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham struggled early, finishing with an inefficient 19 points, but the supporting cast for the Cowboys (12-5, 5-5) pushed them over the edge. Center Kalib Boone finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks and guard Avery Anderson added 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Cowboys are projected as an 8-seed, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, but could be a problem for teams come March.



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