Missouri basketball overcomes nearly nine minutes without a field goal to defeat Western Kentucky

The Tigers didn’t score a field goal for the final 8:32, but they defeated the Hilltoppers 59-56.
With the arena hushed, freshman forward Mitchell Smith, 5, shoots a free throw. The Tigers shot 55 percent from the line against North Carolina Central.

The week before Missouri’s game against Western Kentucky, coach Kim Anderson did not allow his team to wear its normal Mizzou practice gear. Instead, the Tigers wore white shirts and black shorts.

Anderson also took away chairs in the locker room and student assistants.

The deal? If Missouri won, they would get one of the three things back.

The Tigers came through, winning 59-56 on Saturday. Next practice, the team will be back to working out in Mizzou gear.

Here’s what you need to know from the game.

Missouri overcomes missed shots

The Tigers went almost nine minutes without a field goal to end the game, but they still found a way to win.

Missouri’s previous game was a different story, in which the Tigers made only 25 percent of their field goals, a record-low mark for Mizzou Arena. Missouri lost that game, but missed shots didn’t stop them this time.

The Tigers’ defense and rebounding kept them in the game instead, and ultimately helped them hang on to win by three.

“When you are struggling offensively, you can always play good defense and you can always rebound,” Anderson said. “We did that at least.”

The Tigers’ defensive efforts stopped the Hilltoppers from capitalizing, which Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury said just can’t happen.

“We’ve got to win the game,” Stansbury said. “When they don’t score in 8:29, we have to find a way to win the game. That’s real bad.”

Stansbury said the end of the game showed the Tigers’ improvement. Stansbury, who coached against Anderson in his first two seasons with Missouri, sees this year’s team as the best yet.

“They’re a young team, a new team, and won a close game,” Stansbury said. “That will help them with confidence down the stretch.”

Hughes huge in shifting momentum

Frankie Hughes single-handedly would not let Western Kentucky pull away in the first half.

Hughes, a freshman, hit three consecutive three-point shots to keep a struggling Missouri team in the game late in the first half. As his teammates seemed to miss shot after shot, Hughes helped them out.

Hughes’ dominance late in the half from the three-point line is impressive considering that opposing defenses are keying on him.

“Which I feel is a good thing because that allows my teammates to get going early,” Hughes said. “I can’t really say what I can do to help it, but if I am open, I need to take advantage of my opportunity and knock down a shot.”

He often accomplished that in the second half as well. Hughes slammed down two powerful dunks in the second half en route to an 18-point performance against the Hilltoppers.

Anderson said the key for Hughes will be consistency going forward.

“He is going to have nights where he struggles, but he is also going to have nights where he scores a lot,” Anderson said. “Hopefully he can have more of the nights where he scores a lot.”

Good news on the Missouri bench

If you’re looking for good Missouri men’s basketball news, look no further than two individuals sitting on the bench.

Freshman Reed Nikko, who suffered a high ankle sprain a week ago, sat on the bench without crutches. He walked around, but he still wore a walking boot.

Perhaps even more encouraging than Nikko’s injury status is the return of assistant coach Brad Loos who recently returned from New York. His daughter, Rhyan, 6, underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on Tuesday.

Saturday marked Loos’ first game back on the bench since the surgery. Anderson said it was good to have Loos back coaching again.

“I know he is not happy to be away from Rhyan, but I know he is happy to be back around basketball,” Anderson said.

MU student hits half-court shot

Missouri student Aaron Brown received an impressive return on investment for his ticket to Saturday’s game.

Brown made a half court shot at halftime, earning himself $5,000 in the process.

“We could have used him,” Anderson said, jokingly.

You can watch the $5,000 shot here:

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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