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Originally published Monday, March 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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West Regional | Freshman fills in fine for Missouri

For four unbelievable minutes early, Kim English turned the basketball court in Boise into his own showcase. During two excruciating free...

The Associated Press

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BOISE, Idaho — For four unbelievable minutes early, Kim English turned the basketball court in Boise into his own showcase.

During two excruciating free throws late, it was his personal little pressure cooker.

The Missouri freshman was brilliant through all of it — and never more clutch than when he came off the bench to "pinch shoot" for the injured J.T. Tiller with 5.5 seconds left Sunday.

English made both free throws to give the Tigers the go-ahead points in an 83-79 victory over Marquette.

Yes, folks, this is how stars are born in the NCAA tournament.

"He was sitting there auditioning for it," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "Kim, he just gave me that look, and sometimes you just have that feeling and he went up and shot the ball well."

Did anyone expect different?

During a 4 ½-minute shooting spree in the first half, he made some unbelievable shots. He made three three-pointers and scored 15 points during that stretch to help third-seeded Missouri (30-6) turn a six-point deficit into a 16-point lead.

Still, English was on the bench for most of the second half, watching sixth-seeded Marquette chip away at the lead and eventually go ahead.

But when Tiller fell hard and hurt his right wrist after being fouled with the score tied at 79, Anderson took advantage of the college rule that allows teams to substitute for an injured free-throw shooter.

He chose English, who made both.

"He just said, 'Kimmie,' and I knew what that meant," English said. "I'm so happy that he had faith in me to get up there and knock them down. I think anybody on the bench would've knocked them down, actually."

After the English free throws, Marquette's Lazar Hayward turned it over by stepping over the baseline on the ensuing inbounds pass, and the Golden Eagles (25-10) were forced to foul. Leo Lyons made two more free throws to ice the game and Missouri moved onto the West Regional semifinals to play Memphis, Thursday in Glendale, Ariz.

It ruined a wonderful effort from Marquette senior Jerel McNeal, who matched his career high with 30 points, and Wesley Matthews, who scored 24.

Lyons led the Tigers with 18 points, Matt Lawrence had 16 and DeMarre Carroll scored 15.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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