By: Bryan Peach, KCOU Sports
Fans of Missouri’s basketball team knew that this season would be one of transition, but at this point, that rationale is failing to soften the blow to the Mizzou faithful. The Tigers came into last night’s game off of a 62-49 road loss against an average Alabama team. They were unable to score efficiently, shooting 17.4 percent from beyond the arc and just 32.1 percent overall. The Tigers committed almost twice as many fouls as Alabama over the course of the game. A lack of a potent offense and foul trouble have plagued this Missouri squad over the course of this season. In order for them to come out with a win against Texas A&M, the Tigers were going to have to play much better than they had been recently. To put it simply, the Tigers did not.
Missouri faced a tough Texas A&M squad, one that sits near the top of the SEC with an overall record of 15-6. However, the Aggies were coming off a 10-point loss to Ole Miss on the road and Missouri was poised to capitalize and pick up their second win in the SEC this season. Alas, all did not go as Missouri planned. The Tigers were missing three of their standout freshman guards in Namon Wright, Tramiane Isabell, and Montaque Gill-Caesar. Texas A&M used Missouri’s short bench to its advantage.
The Tigers allowed Texas A&M to shoot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc and 58.9 percent overall. Both percentages are well over the A&M’s season average. A&M’s offensive efficiency was clearly a result of Missouri’s lack of depth. The Tigers struggled to keep Texas A&M out of the paint which allowed the Aggies to knock down a lot of high percentage shots from inside. Danuel House had a particularly solid offensive performance and led all scorers with 20 points on 8-14 shooting. Peyton Allen, Jalen Jones, and Kourtney Roberson also had double-digit points for the Aggies and Alex Caruso was the facilitator with 11 assists. Mizzou had just 12 assists as a team.
The Tigers fought valiantly throughout the first half and kept the game close, trailing 38-31 deficit at halftime. However, it began to get out of hand for Missouri not long into the second half. The Tigers were unable to keep the Aggie offense at bay, forcing them to try and trade baskets with A&M. Not the best game plan when you’re playing from behind. Wes Clark led the charge for Missouri’s offense, scoring 15 points along with six assists and three rebounds. Freshman Jakeenan Gant had a solid game for the Tigers off the bench scoring ten points. It was the first game that he had been in double figures since Missouri’s December 13 loss to Xavier. Although six of Missouri’s eight players had more than five points it was not enough to overcome the Aggies who, at times, seemed to score at will. Missouri lost the game by a final score of 83-61, their largest margin of defeat this season other than the 86-37 rout they experienced against Kentucky on the road.
Yesterday’s loss drops Missouri to 1-9 in the SEC, putting the Tigers in last place in the conference and 7-16 overall. The Tigers will look to regroup on the road Tuesday against a South Carolina team that is 2-8 in SEC play. Missouri is in the process of rebuilding its program and there is certainly hope for the future. However, Missouri fans will just have to hope that this group of mostly young, inexperienced players will be able to band together and finish out this season as well as they possibly can.