Missouri was bounced from the Big 12 Tournament in blowout fashion Thursday night, falling to Texas A&M in its quarterfinal matchup, 86-71. The Tigers shot just 33 percent from the field including 3-for-15 from long range in the loss at the Sprint Center.
Texas A&M led the entire game, expanding the score gap to as much as 22 at one point in the second half. The Aggies shot 58 percent from the field in the second-round win.
The lone bright spot for Missouri was junior guard Marcus Denmon. The Tiger's leading scorer notched a game-high 22 points and hit all three of the team’s long balls. Junior forward Laurence Bowers and junior guard Kim English also broke double digits, scoring 13 and 12 points respectively.
Texas A&M was led by junior forward David Loubeau and senior guard B.J. Holmes, who each scored 20 points. Joining them in double figures was Aggie senior forward Nathan Walkup with 16 points and a game-high six rebounds.
While Missouri hung with Texas A&M in the paint (each team scored 32 points inside), the Aggies dominated from deep. They shot 8 for 16 from beyond the arc, using timely three-pointers to keep Missouri distant.
The Tigers started slowly on both ends, letting the Aggies jump out to a double-digit lead just five minutes in at 14-4. Missouri shot 2-for-19 to start the game, failing to capitalize on early Texas A&M turnovers.
The Aggies earned their initial big lead and never looked back. Every time Missouri started to get on a run, Texas A&M would answer. The Aggies led 46-33 at halftime.
Junior forward Laurence Bowers saw his team fall behind early and fail to make up the lost ground.
“They are a physical team, but they aren’t a brutal team,” Bowers said. “They executed, they had more energy, and they punched us in the mouth and we couldn’t withstand it.”
The break brought no end to the Missouri mishaps, as the Tigers came out and missed their first seven shots of the second half. The Aggies extended the lead to 20 just five minutes into the half and the Tigers couldn’t claw back.
Hitting the floor just one night after playing down to wire with Texas Tech might have hurt Missouri. Coach Mike Anderson knows his team didn’t bring the energy needed to overcome an early deficit.
“It seemed like we were walking in mud, just couldn’t generate that energy we’re always talking about,” Anderson said. “We got off to a slow start and it just seemed like we were battling uphill. We did not have that energy you need to have, especially against a good team like Texas A&M.”
Junior guard Kim English made comments after the game suggesting that energy was not the problem. English said his team quit. English was not seen at the postgame press conference where his teammates denied any notion that Missouri gave up.
“I’m always going to go out fighting until the clock says zero,” Denmon said. “I feel, as one of the leaders of this team, that the rest of the players should do that as well. I don’t know what Kimmie meant, but I don’t feel that anyone out there quit.”