Missouri loses second SEC contest in game riddled with foul trouble

Javon Pickett set a new career high, but the Tigers struggled too much with fouls and turnovers for it to make a difference.
Designed by Corey Hadfield

Freshman guard Javon Pickett set a new career high with 21 points and led both teams in scoring after ending a near six minute Missouri scoring drought in the first half of Missouri’s matchup with South Carolina on Sunday. Twice in the second half, he brought the Tigers to a one–possession deficit.

Despite his efforts, however, the rest of his team couldn’t hang on.

Missouri (9-5, 0-2) failed to hold onto any momentum gained throughout Sunday’s contest, eventually losing to South Carolina (9-7, 4-0) 85-75 in its second SEC contest of the season. While the Tigers move to an 0-2 conference record, the Gamecocks continue undefeated, even after coming out of nonconference play with a .500 record.

Sophomore forward Jeremiah Tilmon was benched midway through the first half by coach Cuonzo Martin after logging two fouls early in the game. The sophomore returned to the court at the start of the second half only to foul twice more within the first three minutes. He eventually fouled out on an offensive foul call, getting tangled up with South Carolina senior Chris Silva just under the 13 minute mark of the second half. Although Tilmon seemed to be working through his freshman year foul issues during nonconference play, he has already accumulated 10 personal fouls in just two SEC games.

Missouri as a whole experienced immense foul trouble against the Gamecocks, tallying 26 as a team and tying the season-high set in the Iowa State loss on Nov. 9. Senior forward Kevin Puryear came close to suffering a similar fate to Tilmon, ending the game with four fouls.

Another issue that plagued the Tigers during Sunday’s game was turnovers, of which Missouri had 20. The Tigers gave up 33 points off turnovers where South Carolina gave up just 17 points on 16 turnovers.

South Carolina also made some big plays on defense that prevented Missouri from ever making a full comeback. Silva had three of the team’s seven blocks, as well as three steals. The Gamecocks also logged 17 defensive rebounds.

Besides Pickett, guards Mark Smith and Jordan Geist added 14 points apiece. Smith leads the SEC in 3-point percentage and shot 50 percent against the Gamecocks, hitting three triples. Freshman forward Torrence Watson looked promising after sinking two 3s in the first half, but only added one more point for the Tigers the entire game.

Missouri may have struggled throughout Sunday’s game, but its struggles began Friday with weather in mid-Missouri and most of the Midwest that caused the game to be postponed from a Jan. 12 gametime to Jan. 13.

Missouri returns home Wednesday, Jan. 16 to take on Alabama. The Crimson Tide is currently on a two-game losing streak after a Texas A&M buzzer beater tacked on another loss onto its record Saturday afternoon.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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