JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. --- The Lincoln Blue Tigers are beating bad teams, they're beating good teams.
They've been good at home, they've been good on the road.
How is this possible? Simple.
Because they're really good.
Yes, we're talking about those Lincoln Blue Tigers.
Not that they've been bad the last three years, because they haven't been. But this year's team is a whole, different level of good.
Saturday's game was a great example, when the Blue Tigers knocked off 20th-ranked Missouri Southern 90-83 at Jason Gym. This was a game Lincoln would always lose, especially the way it unfolded.
The Blue Tigers (10-3, 3-1 MIAA) had a 20-point lead with 14 minutes left. But just over 10 minutes later --- and on the heels of a 31-11 eruption by the Lions (11-3, 2-2) --- the lead was gone and it was 74-74 with 3:48 left.
"That used to be us, that used to be Lincoln," fifth-year Blue Tigers coach John Moseley said about the prospects of, at that point, losing to the Lions.
Not this time, not this team.
"We're working hard," Moseley continued, "to make sure that we maintain the progress we've made here, and these guys are trying to make their own mark."
The lead was never lost, but the momentum certainly was. Until this happened --- a four-point play by 6-3 senior guard Amariontez Ivory (Flint, Mich.) with 3:25 left that started the game-ending and game-winning 16-9 run.
It's always nice when you can turn a tie game into a two-possession lead on one trip down the floor.
"We got the ball to a guy who's made multiple big shots for us," Moseley said. "Then to get the foul on top of it ... I think that was absolutely the turning point, because you could feel that the momentum had swung completely in their (the Lions') favor."
Missouri Southern coach Jeff Boschee, a standout for the Kansas Jayhawks from 1998-2002, knows as much.
"After we got it tied," he said, "I thought we were going to win it. But that play was a killer, we just couldn't overcome it."
And it turned into just the second win over a nationally-ranked team for the Blue Tigers in "at least" 20 years.
"This is a huge win for us, because we're working to earn respect in this conference," Moseley said. "We've said all along that we've got a good group of young men to represent this program, and it's good to see them get this kind of signature win for us.
"These guys should know now, and have the confidence, that they can play with and defeat any team in this league."
Lincoln's Terrance Smith, 6-8 senior from Memphis, was almost unstoppable Saturday. And you could have dropped the almost if he hadn't been sitting on the bench with foul trouble most of the second half.
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