McKernan: And so it ends! -

McKernan: And so it ends!

(GLENDALE, ARIZONA) - And so it ends, quite anticlimactically. As I walked out of the University of Phoenix Stadium, I had an empty feeling, and I'm not quite sure why. The obvious answer is because Missouri lost. But, I've had the misfortune of walking out of buildings when the Cardinals lost a heartbreaker (see Tony Womack's base hit off of Steve Kline to lead Arizona to the NLDS win in 2001), the Rams lost the Super Bowl, the Blues lost the Western Conference Finals in overtime vs. Colorado in 2001, and Missouri lose in the Elite Eight six years ago to Oklahoma. Sitting here writing this, I'm not sure if I have an empty feeling because I know UConn was better...or because I feel like everything was in place for the Tigers to get to their first Final Four, and they didn't execute when they needed to. I guess this is my verdict: UConn was better, but they were there for the taking today...because they weren't as "better" as I thought they'd be and because Missouri didn't come through when they had a number of chances. If you only watched the final few minutes and saw the Huskies up fairly comfortably, you wouldn't have realized that the Tigers were actually leading at one point in the second half after overcoming a six point halftime lead. Missouri missed some open looks and, as had been the case throughout the season, too many free throws. Meanwhile, UConn shot lights out in the first half and was money from the free throw line. This game was there to be won, and you don't get too many shots at the Final Four. Therefore, it leaves a disappointing and, yes, empty feeling. However, when you consider not only the low expectations for Missouri basketball going into this year...and, perhaps more importantly, the lack of relevance of Missouri basketball over the last few years, it's tough to be too upset about a year that featured 31 wins, a Big 12 Tournament Championship, a win over a #2 seed, and a run to the Elite Eight and a hard-fought loss to a #1 seed. So, here's to Mike Anderson for bring Missouri basketball back. Here's to the team for giving area basketball fans a thrill. And, here's to Leo Lyons, DeMarre Carroll, and Matt Lawrence, the seniors who led this team on the floor and off, and hopefully, laid the foundation for thrilling basketball in Columbia for years to come.

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