Missouri unable to complete comeback, falls to LSU 80–71

Simmons scores 22 to hand Mizzou fourth straight loss.
Missouri guard Terrence Phillips (1) attempts to fake out charging South Carolina defenders before going up for a layup on Feb. 16 in Mizzou arena.

It was an all-too-familiar sight for Kim Anderson and his Tigers on Tuesday night.

Once again, the Missouri’s men’s basketball team quickly fell behind in the first half, attempted to mount a comeback in the second half and came up just short. This time, it was an 80–71 loss in Baton Rouge to Louisiana State.

From the opening tip, it was clear that Missouri’s game plan was to limit the production of the future No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, Ben Simmons.

At first, Missouri stuck freshman forward Kevin Puryear on Simmons in a man-to-man defense., While Puryear limited Simmons’ scoring, the LSU showcased his ability to distribute the ball and create open shots for his teammates.

As Simmons’ teammates hit open shot after open shot, Mizzou was forced to play a zone defensively. The LSU forward exploited Missouri’s zone, slicing through it with ease. Simmons finished the half with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.

On the other side of the ball, Missouri was a mess.

The Tigers were clumsy with the ball and turned it over 13 times. LSU and Simmons converted many of these mishaps into buckets, scoring 16 points off of turnovers. At half, Missouri walked off the court down 46–24.

The second half was a completely different story.

Missouri came out on fire behind freshmen guards Terrence Phillips and K.J. Walton. Phillips played with his usual intensity, at one point rising above 7-foot center Darcy Malone and blocking his shot. Phillips also scored six points and added three assists in the second half alone.

As for Walton, he finally looked like the highly touted prospect that Anderson was expecting at the start of the season. Walton hit all four of the shots he took, three of which were 3-pointers, to score 11 points.

Behind their strong performances, Missouri clawed its way back into the game. With four minutes to go, Mizzou was only down by four points.

However, LSU managed to stave off the Tigers from Columbia behind a dominant finish for Simmons. Simmons finished the game with a double-double, scoring 22 points while grabbing 14 rebounds. He also managed to dish out seven assists.

When the final whistle blew, Missouri was made to walk off the court with a loss for the fourth straight game. The final score was 80–71.

Missouri will play its final game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at home against Florida. The game can be viewed on the SEC Network.

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