Missouri falters offensively but defeats Morehead State

Mark Smith finished with a season-high 21 points.
Xavier Pinson dives on a loose ball during Missouri's 70-52 win over Morehead State. Photo by Andrew Moore

Two days after its most complete win of the season, Missouri (4-1) struggled offensively in an ugly 70-52 win over Morehead State (4-1).

The Tigers turned the ball over 17 times, shot 40% from the field and 18% from beyond the arc.

“It had more to do with us not being locked in offensively and understanding what we do in practice, this is how we’ll win games,” coach Cuonzo Martin said.

It appeared that the Tigers might run away with the game early. They jumped out to a 14-3 lead behind eight Mark Smith points. Smith, who was one of the only Tigers knocking down his shots, finished with a team-leading and season-high 21 points on 7-9 shooting. Aside from Mark Smith, the team went 1-17 from the 3-point line.

“It’s just moving around,” Smith said. “Just staying space-minded. Dru, Javon, X, they do a great job getting in the lane. Tilly, he’s really unselfish, so I just try to stay shot-ready and play off those guys, and if I got the ball, try to get to the basket or whatever the play is. It’s just great playing with unselfish guys and I try to make the most of it.”

Morehead State clawed back and pulled ahead 20-19, feeding off of sloppy offense from the Tigers. The teams traded leads and with Missouri trailing 29-27, it used a 9-0 run to take a lead into the locker room. Freshman Kobe Brown capped off the run with a steal and layup just before the first half buzzer.

“He’s a talented player,” Martin said. “Just like the learning and the growth just like Mario [McKinney] and Tray [Jackson]. He can score the ball. He’s a physical presence and he has to be able to attack off the dribble, make plays, post up, be physical, be strong.”

Missouri maintained a double-digit lead throughout most of the second half but still struggled to find rhythm offensively. Junior Jeremiah Tilmon finished with five turnovers on 2-7 shooting. Sophomores Torrence Watson and Xavier Pinson combined to go 0-10.

“We just got to make sure we’re taking the right shots,” Javon Pickett said. “A lot of guys work on their jump shot so they gonna fall. We just got to make sure we’re taking the right ones.”

The Tigers’ defense shined again on Wednesday. They outrebounded the Eagles 45-28 and held them to 38% from the field.

“I think that’s kinda what you have to have especially when you’re not hitting shots,” Dru Smith said. “We just have to keep working to make ourselves a better defensive team because there was definitely still areas where we broke down.”

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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