When Missouri senior guard J.T. Tiller released a potential game-tying 3-point attempt with less than 10 seconds to go against Texas A&M, more than the game hung in the balance.
As the Mizzou Arena crowd held its collective breath in anticipation, the Tigers’ 32-game home win streak was also at stake, a mark that had earned second place on the Missouri all-time list.
When the shot hit the rim and ended up in the hands of a Texas A&M defender, a major portion of the Missouri roster experienced something for the first time in its career: a home loss.
Of the 13 players on the Tigers’ roster, only Tiller and junior forward Justin Safford were playing for Missouri when it lost to Oklahoma State on Feb. 26, 2008. They were also there for the home finale on March 5, 2008 when Missouri took down Iowa State in two overtimes to start its streak.
“We haven’t lost here in a long time, so it’s a pretty new feeling to most of the guys on the team,” Tiller said.
The loss halted Missouri’s streak two games before it could reach the all-time mark of 34-straight, set from 1988-90. Embedded in the 32-game streak was a perfect 18-0 mark in 2008-09.
Before it fell at the hands of the Aggies, Missouri’s home court win streak provided plenty of blowout wins. Of the 32 wins, 27 were by double-digits, and Missouri’s average margin of victory was 21.7 points.
But the wins weren’t all easy. Missouri beat three ranked teams during its run at home, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 16 Kansas in 2009 and No. 10 Kansas State this season. The outcome of the Kansas game wasn’t decided until the final minute when then-junior guard Zaire Taylor hit the game-winning shot.
For a player who kept the streak alive last year, seeing another team celebrate on his home court didn’t lessen the blow of Wednesday’s loss.
“As a competitor, it does bother you to see guys with a smile after the game,” Taylor said.
The guys smiling on Norm Stewart Court also handed Missouri a loss last year in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M came into the game without a road win in the Big 12, but Tiller pointed out how anyone can succeed in the Big 12.
“You just got to bring your A game every night in the Big 12 because every team is tough from one to 12,” Tiller said. “On any given night, in your house or on the road, you’re in for a dog fight.”
The Tigers are now left to fight for another win streak at their home court, although their next game comes at Colorado this Saturday before they come home to take on Iowa State on Feb. 10.
“We got to come in with the killer instinct pretty much for the rest of the season so we don’t have upsets like this,” Tiller said.
Missouri coach Mike Anderson said he knew this loss wouldn’t break his young team.
“One thing about them, they got a lot of fight in them,” Anderson said.