Someone forgot to tell Texas A&M that Missouri does not lose at home. The Aggies marched into Mizzou Arena on Wednesday night and beat the Tigers 77-74, to serve Missouri its first home loss since the 2007-08 season.
“There’s a saying in basketball and all sports that says, ‘We almost, almost,’ ” coach Mike Anderson said. “Almost isn’t good enough in this league. You’ve got to bring it each and every night.”
Texas A&M brought it to Missouri. The Aggies grabbed a 7-0 lead to start the game and maintained control of the game for most of the second half. Even when it was down, Texas A&M was relentless and eventually wore on the Tigers.
Sophomore forward Steve Moore gave the Tigers their first lead of the game with 34 seconds left in the first half. His two free throws put Missouri up 37-36. The momentum carried over into the second half, where Missouri started off on a 15-5 run to go up 52-41. That was the team’s biggest lead of the night, and it evaporated quickly.
“We had the momentum going our way, and then I think guys just started going one-on-one,” senior guard Zaire Taylor said. “Sometimes you just play the game to play, as Coach says, instead of playing to win. And I think we were a victim of that tonight.”
With 12:32 to go in the game, sophomore guard Kim English hit a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 55-46 advantage. Missouri would not score another field goal for nearly 11 minutes. The confident shooting team that sank 12 of 27 shots in the first half slumped to 13 for 33 in the second half.
Coupled with its shooting woes was the fact the Aggies dominated Missouri on the boards. Junior and senior forwards Justin Safford and Keith Ramsey combined for just two rebounds during the game.
“I’m very disappointed, and I even made that point to those guys,” Anderson said. “In terms of rebounding, something’s got to change. It’s something that hadn’t been a problem all year long. All of a sudden now, there’s got to be a sense of urgency when you get in league play. For those guys to get two rebounds ad play 48 minutes between them, that’s not acceptable.”
Even with their flaws throughout the night, the Tigers went toe-to-toe with the Aggies. With time winding down, Missouri found itself in a 71-63 hole.
But as they had all night, the Tigers battled back.
“I thought A&M played with their hearts, and our guys did too,” Anderson said. “But we just came up a little short.”
English hit his second 3-pointer of the game with 12.4 seconds remaining to draw Missouri within one. After Texas A&M hit two free throws, the Tigers were down 77-74 with just more than 10 seconds left. In the final possession, senior guard J.T. Tiller put up a 3-point shot that banked off the rim just short. Game over.
“We wanted to give Kimmie a look because he hit one before,” Tiller said. “But when a play breaks down, you’ve got to have a contingency plan. I had a good look, it just didn’t fall.”