Missouri falls to South Carolina, but Wes Clark has career day

It was Clark that kept Mizzou in the game. Ultimately, the Tigers lost, but the effort and the fight wasn’t the problem in the slightest.
Sophomore guard Tramaine Isabell (4) fights off an Arkansas defender. The Razorbacks’ press defense frustrated the Tigers on Jan 12, 2016, at Mizzou Arena as they lost 94-61.

Traveling to Columbia, South Carolina, to face off against the No. 19 Gamecocks was always going to be a challenge for the Missouri men’s basketball team. And with the tumultuous week that took place in the home Columbia, it certainly didn’t get any easier.

Wes Clark didn’t seem to show it, though. The 6-foot junior guard had his stroke working for him and again set a career high — this time with 26 points. Ultimately, Missouri was defeated 81-72, and here are three takeaways from that game:

Clark kept Tigers in it: It’s hard to quantify the impact that Clark had on Saturday afternoon, but it was more than just 26 points. Each time South Carolina would extend their lead, Clark would hit a big shot.

After injuring his elbow last year in South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena, this was a chance for payback. Although Mizzou didn’t win, he had one heck of a game and it’s that type of production that Missouri will need going forward.

Tigers showed no quit: It’s hard to assess a team’s psyche coming into a game against the No. 19 team in the nation after a week like the one Mizzou experienced. Following a loss to Arkansas at home by 33 points on Tuesday, Missouri coach Kim Anderson said he was “embarrassed.” The day after, the school announced self-imposed penalties because of NCAA violations committed within former coach Frank Haith’s tenure. All that, and you have to travel to play one the Southeastern Conference’s best teams on Saturday.

After everything that’s happened, fans question the intensity the team will show. They question how much senior center Ryan Rosburg — who can’t even play in his last SEC tournament — will be engaged. They questioned the fight this team would show.

Although they trailed 7-0 early, Missouri fought and continued to fight. Players like sophomore forward D’Angelo Allen, who hasn’t gotten the minutes one might expect in his 2015-16 campaign, fought. So too did sophomore guard Namon Wright. And Clark kept Mizzou in the game. The Tigers lost, but the effort and the fight wasn’t the problem in the slightest.

Rebounding was the problem: It’s hard to win a basketball game when you get outrebounded 41 to 26. At times, Missouri was one stop and score away from creeping toward tying the game. The problem, though, wasn’t the stop — it was the second-chance points.

There were numerous instances in the game where Missouri would force a bad shot or South Carolina would miss a 3-pointer, and it’d be a follow-up layup by the Gamecocks that would kill all the momentum.

This was a point of emphasis coming in and something Anderson and staff didn’t overlook. The Gamecocks were just too big, and it cost Missouri.

Next up for Mizzou is a matchup with Georgia at Mizzou Arena. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.

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