Mizzou falls in 77-75 thriller against Florida

: Jordan Geist’s pass to Kassius Robertson in the final seconds was stolen by Florida’s Chris Chiozza, whose breakaway layup sealed the victory for the Gators.

Jordan Barnett attacks the basket against Iowa State on Nov. 10. Maneater File Photo

All of the makings for a signature Mizzou win were there: a quality opponent, a raucous home crowd, an inspired performance from a senior trying to get his program back to prominence.

Florida Gators senior guard Chris Chiozza, however, had other plans.

With 17 seconds left in a 75-75 game, Missouri junior guard Jordan Geist inbounded the ball to graduate transfer guard Kassius Robertson. Robertson gave the ball back to Geist, who slowly took the ball to the other side of the court, looking for Robertson again so he could take the last shot. But as Geist went to pass the ball to Robertson, Chiozza came streaking into the play, intercepting Geist’s pass and taking it the other way for a breakaway layup just before time expired.

Just like that, Missouri had thrown its signature win away.

Missouri (11-4, 1-1) fell 77-75 to the Gators on Saturday at Mizzou Arena, the team’s first Southeastern Conference loss of the season. Florida improved to 11-4 with the victory.

Missouri was led by senior Jordan Barnett, who recorded a career-high 28 points in the loss. In the final moments of the game, however, he was left completely alone, as Geist dribbled away from him and never gave him a chance to put up the final shot. Barnett, who shot 6 for 9 from beyond the 3-point line and recorded nine rebounds, could only watch as Chiozza, his defender, stole Geist’s pass and broke the hearts of Missouri’s faithful.

“This game hurts,” Barnett said. “It angers us a lot.”

What made the loss even more difficult for Missouri was how well the team played for most of the contest. Hot shooting from Barnett and strong interior play from freshman big man Jontay Porter had Missouri leading for most of the first half before the Gators closed out the period on a 12-3 run to go up 36-35 headed into halftime. In the second half, Missouri came out firing from beyond the arc and led by as many as 10 points with 10:05 to go in the game. Despite foul trouble for both Porter and freshman Jeremiah Tilmon, who fouled out at the 5:36 mark and played just eight minutes, Missouri led by five with 1:32 to go in the game. Then the wheels came off.

A three-point play by Jalen Hudson and a botched Missouri possession gave the Gators a chance to tie or take the lead with 39 seconds to go in the game, but Florida neglected to call a timeout. Instead, the team went right at the basket again, looking for a quick two points to tie the game. Porter was having none of that, however, as he came over to help Geist and swatted Egor Koulechov’s layup attempt away. The ball was then corralled by Florida, and Hudson missed a 3. But the referees said Robertson’s outstretched fingertips had touched Hudson’s and sent him to the line. Hudson hit two of three free throws and tied the contest to set up Chiozza’s heroics.

Video review made it clear that Robertson never touched Hudson on the shot. After the game, he didn’t have much to say about it.

“I’m not going to talk about the referees,” Robertson said.

Martin, who’s well known in basketball circles for his stoicism, was also frustrated after the contest.

“This was a tough game for me, if you know what I mean. ... I'm not a complainer, but it was hard,” Martin said.

Barnett said the team will try to learn from Saturday’s game and use it as motivation against its next opponent, Georgia. The Bulldogs, who beat the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, will visit Columbia Wednesday night for an 8 p.m. CT contest.

“The best thing we can do is take that anger, channel it and use it on Wednesday,” Barnett said.

Edited by Garrett Jones | gjones@themaneater.com

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