Missouri’s season hit another low point Saturday, as the Tigers lost 68-59 at home to Texas A&M, a team near the bottom of the SEC standings. It was a tough loss, especially because for more than 25 of the 40 minutes of game time it seemed like the Tigers were going to cruise to a win.
Missouri (11-11, 2-8 in SEC play through Sunday) was still without its best shooter, Mark Smith, out with a lingering ankle injury. Adding to the difficulty Saturday night, forward Jeremiah Tilmon was out after having midweek wisdom tooth surgery. And, as any Tiger fan trying to remain level-headed during this tough season has reminded, Missouri lost probably its best player, Jontay Porter, to a knee injury before the season started.
Still, Missouri should have won this game. Texas A&M (9-13, 2-8 in SEC) has a lot of limitations of their own, and the Tigers showed for the first half and the early part of the second half that they were plenty capable of winning this one.
Missouri led 40-29 with 15:31 to go. But then the Aggies reeled off a 28-7 run over the next 11:41 to take a 57-47 lead with 3:50 to play, and that was pretty much that.
The 28-7 run was built on some hot Texas A&M shooting, but also another example of Missouri’s offense disappearing. It was a lot of turnovers and missed shots from beyond the arc for the Tigers, many of which were guarded well and/or had to be forced up as the shot clock was winding down. Missouri attempted only five shots inside the arc during that 11 minutes and 41 seconds, making two. Definitely having Tilmon out and Reed Nikko in foul trouble hurt the inside game, but Missouri still needed to try to get to the rim more.
The Tigers were shorthanded for sure, but the trends of too many turnovers and cold shooting have been trends this season. Missouri also needs more depth and experience at guard, especially point guard. It’s frustrating, but this is clearly a rebuilding season. The Tigers have a lot of young players, freshman and sophomores, who are contributing and showing potential, giving hope going forward.
Tiger fans, even if they get frustrated with this season at times, seem to understand. But it’s important to not just be rebuilding forever. It’s been nine years since Missouri won an NCAA Tournament game, and that understandably feels too long. Here’s hoping for better things next year.
Missouri does have a chance for a quality win on Saturday, when they travel to Ole Miss (2:30 p.m. on SEC Network). The Rebels (16-7, 6-4 in SEC) have been a surprise this season, competing for an NCAA Tournament spot under first-year coach Kermit Davis. Experienced guards Breein Tyree and Terence Davis lead the offense and will be a challenge for Tiger guards.
It’s a long shot, but this would be a great win for the Tigers. At minimum, it’ll be a good test.