By: Brett Johnson, KCOU Sports
13 games is a long time for a team to go without a win. Especially at the collegiate level.
Now, the monkey is off the back of the Mizzou men’s basketball team.
The Tigers were able to bring all they could offer to the table Tuesday night against the Florida Gators, and it finally paid off, defeating the slumping Gators 64-52 in front of 7,631 faithful fans, who were eager for a victory.
The hero of the night was Namon Wright, who scored 28 points, including 6 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc.
“I was questioning if he was going to miss tonight or not,” Montaque Gill-Caesar said of his teammate. Gill-Caesar finished with 9 points and 3 assists.
This is the first game the Tigers brought the kind of energy they supplied to the Mizzou Arena since the conference season opener, leading through a majority of the first half, only to watch the lead be turned into a 31-27 deficit going into halftime. In recent games, this spelled disaster for Mizzou. Not on Tuesday.
The Tigers took command, capitalizing on an onslaught of Florida missed opportunities that includes shooting a mere 5-23 from three point land and 9-23 from the free throw line. The Tigers snagged defensive rebounds, and took advantage of offensive second opportunities.
“[Johnathan Williams III] and Jakeenan [Gant] took over the boards,” Mizzou coach Kim Anderson said. Williams III had 7 in total, Gant had 6.
The win snaps the school-record losing streak, which the players are looking to simply accept and move past.
“We don’t worry about this game, it’s time to start worrying about Georgia,” Gill-Caesar said. The Bulldogs are the Tigers next opponent in an 11 a.m. start in Athens on Saturday.
For the Gators, this is their sixth loss in eight games. The Gators were looking to get head coach Billy Donovan his 500th victory of his coaching career, but were unable to.
“It’s hard to win going 9/23 from the free throw line,” Donovan said. “We made lots of poor choices that left me scratching my head.”
For the Tigers, it has to feel good to have this win under their belt.
“Maybe these guys can take off their ski masks and be proud of their accomplishments,” Kim Anderson said of his team’s victory.
With the season going the way it has, that sure should be granted.