Senior Jacob Pullen put up 24 points to lead the Kansas State Wildcats to an 80-70 victory over the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon. Pullen had 11 points just four minutes into the game to eclipse the 2,000-point mark for his career.
The loss is Missouri’s sixth conference road loss of the season.
"I thought we had a lot of mental mistakes as a team,” junior guard Marcus Denmon said. “We did a lot of things you can't do on the road to win. We feel it was something that was in our control but we let it slip away.”
While Denmon (22), junior forward Laurence Bowers (16) and sophomore guard Michael Dixon (10) all finished with double-digit point totals, Missouri as a team had trouble finding its stride offensively. After rallying back from a 7-point deficit midway through the second half, Missouri’s offense was unable to even hit a shot, scoring just 10 points in the final six minutes of the game, all coming from Denmon.
“When it was tied up, there were a lot of emotions but then it seemed like we started shooting ourselves in the foot,” Bowers said. “I think we kind of beat ourselves up on some aspects of the game but give K-State credit. I thought it'd be closer at the end, but they are a good team and they found a way to win.”
Missouri finished the game shooting just over 40 percent as a team. This poor shooting performance played right into the hands of Kansas State, who entered Saturday’s contest as the best offensive rebounding team in the Big 12. Unfortunately for Missouri, early foul trouble for junior forwards Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore limited their playing time and left Missouri vulnerable down low.
“I think that we had 11 fouls between our big guys,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “One guy played 12 minutes, one played four and one played three. Obviously they did not get to play a lot today so we ended up going small and I thought that it helped us but it also hurt us especially when you talk about the rebounding.”
Despite trailing by as much as 10 points in the first half, Missouri rallied right before halftime to cut the Kansas State lead to three points heading into the break.
“I thought our guys did a good job of settling in and getting back to the things that we came on the road to do in terms of execution our offense and defense,” Anderson said. “When you go into halftime down by three points you feel pretty good about your team.”
After junior guard Kim English gave Missouri its first lead of the game three minutes into the second half, the two teams exchanged leads until Kansas State broke ahead by seven points. Missouri rallied again, however, eventually tying the game at 60 behind a 3-pointer from Dixon. Kansas State responded with a 9-0 run sparked by a 3-pointer from Will Spradling on the next possession to go up for the remainder of the game.
"We were down five points and I thought that we tried to get five points in one play but you cannot do that,” Anderson said. “Our inexperience showed in that particular part of the game."
The loss drops Missouri to 8-6 in Big 12 play heading into their final road game of the season at Nebraska Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Lincoln.