SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The relationship between Missouri coach Quin Snyder and point guard Clarence Gilbert was once tumultuous. Now, it's downright symbiotic.
And the harmony between the two is one of the reasons 12th-seeded Missouri advanced to Saturday's West Regional final against third-seeded Oklahoma.
Gilbert, the Tigers' lone senior, has gone from a gunner to a more mature player, patient to pass the ball to one of his teammates. Snyder is the reason.
Last season, Gilbert and Snyder butted heads, and at one point the star guard was suspended for a game because of his poor attitude. The two talked it over, and an understanding started to form.
"Clarence went through a time when he was really emotional and he's learned to harness his emotion and channel it," Snyder said. "I was very forthright with him about what I expected of him and he came right back and gave us everything we asked of him.
"At that point, a real trust began to form."
That trust was one of the reasons Snyder moved Gilbert to the point; a move that has paid off down the stretch for the Tigers (24-11).
Gilbert, the Tigers' unquestioned leader, is averaging a team-best 19.7 points in the tournament. Known for his 3-pointers, he has hit on 10-of-20.
"I've grown up, both as a player and as a person," Gilbert said.
Once a kid struggling in a Florida neighborhood where he got into "maybe three fights a day," the 6-foot-2 Gilbert admitted he was a selfish player -- a gunner -- until Snyder got through to him this season.
"I guess what happened is I started listening to him," Gilbert said.
Much like Hollis Price is the heart of the Sooners, Gilbert is the heart of the Tigers, Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said.
"I think he's a tough kid. I've always liked him," Sampson said. "He's battled adversity in his career, but I think he's playing his best basketball because of his toughness."
Gilbert and his Tigers -- the first No. 12 seed to get this close to the Final Four -- face their toughest challenge of the tournament in the Sooners (30-4), who are on an 11-game winning streak.
Though Oklahoma and Missouri have met every year since 1920, both coaches say their familiarity doesn't make the task any easier.
"You'd think it would cut down on preparation time, but you're still up until 4 or 5 in the morning watching videotape and trying to find an edge," Snyder said.
Oklahoma has beaten Missouri eight straight times since 1997, including an 84-71 victory in Norman in January, when Price had 24 points -- including five 3-pointers. But you'll never catch a savvy coach such as Sampson admitting to any extra edge in such a high-pressure setting far from home.
"What we've done against them in the past really means nothing," Sampson said. "There's nothing guaranteed. We have a good opportunity, but our opportunity is really no different from Missouri's."
The winner Saturday will become the first Big 12 team to make the Final Four since the conference adopted its current form in 1996-97.
Gilbert, who would not say whether he would be matched up against Price, admires his Oklahoma for its grit.
"I just like their toughness," he said. "I like to think of myself as a tough player. So I like that they're tough."
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