The Missouri men's basketball team had one chance left to put their road demons behind them. One last opportunity to prove that the team’s dismal record away from the comforts of Mizzou Arena was merely an anomaly.
That final chance came and went Tuesday night as Nebraska said its farewell in style with a 69-58 victory over the struggling Tiger squad, which finished 1-7 on the road in conference play.
Junior forward Marcus Denmon led the team with 19 points in the defeat.
“I’m kind of disappointed the way we’ve played on the road, especially today, playing a Nebraska team,” Denmon said. “Starting today, no more road games. There’s nothing more for us to figure out. It’s either home or neutral.
The Tigers jumped ahead early in the first half, but the Huskers continued to scrap, eventually taking a two point lead into halftime. Nebraska came out of the intermission lively on the defensive end, and used a 17-3 run midway through the second half to pull away from the road-weary Tigers.
“They had a nice little spurt there and we just weren’t able to recover,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “We just couldn’t make the plays going down the stretch.”
The trends that have plagued Missouri all season came out in full at Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Tigers were outrebounded 35-24, and only got to the charity stripe four times to the Huskers 23 attempts. The Tigers also turned the ball over 17 times, which was a statistic that Anderson said was out of characteristic for the young team.
“The thing I was most disappointed with our guys was the inability to take care of the basketball,” Anderson said. “That’s one thing we do. We value the basketball. We want to disrupt it, and create tempo, but we want to value the basketball. Our two point guards had seven turnovers between them. You can’t do that on the road and expect to win.”
Husker senior Lance Jeter also proved to be a problem for the Tiger backcourt. Jeter, who was originally scouted as a football player in high school, used his size and strength en route to a team high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists.
Nebraska coach Doc Sadler was extremely pleased with the play of Jeter and the rest of the Huskers on Senior Night.
“I’m very happy for Lance,” Sadler said. “He got us going again like he’s done so many times like when we were struggling in the first half offensively. I can’t say enough about our basketball team, and what they did tonight.”
Missouri concludes its season with rival Kansas at home Saturday. The Tigers are 17-0 at home this season, but fell to the Jayhawks on the road earlier in the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.