Missouri unable to get off six game skid, loses 76-62 to Mississippi State

Anderson: “I didn’t think we looked very comfortable on the floor tonight. We looked like a team who were struggling mentally and physically on the floor.”
Missouri Tiger forward Jakeenan Gant (23) goes up for a layup during the basketball game against Mississippi State on Jan 30 in Mizzou Arena.

Frustration has set in for Missouri men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson.

Missouri (8-13, 1-7 SEC) dropped its sixth straight game on Saturday night, this time to Mississippi State (9-11, 2-6 SEC), 76-62. The struggles that he has found since settling in Columbia are foreign. Anderson came to Missouri boasting a 274-95 record during his time coaching Central Missouri.

“I’m not really used to this,” Anderson said. “I want these guys to have some success and I can’t go out and play. So yeah, you get frustrated.”

While every loss stings, Saturday’s loss was especially painful for Anderson’s Tigers. Their past few games were against high caliber opponents in Texas A&M and Kentucky, but the Bulldogs (9-11, 2-6) entered Mizzou Arena with a 1-6 record in the Southeastern Conference, the same record as Mizzou.

“We should have collapsed on the opportunity because I think we are a better team than them,” sophomore guard Namon Wright said. “We just didn’t show up tonight.”

Missouri was unable to capitalize on the fact that Mississippi State was playing without its top scorer and one of its best defenders in senior forward Gavin Ware, who suffered a concussion Thursday during practice. In fact, the loss of Ware might have even helped the Bulldogs.

As a result of losing their top big man, MSU switched into playing a zone, something that coach Ben Howland vowed he would not do earlier in the season.

“We hadn’t played zone the past four games so Missouri wasn’t prepared for zone,” Howland said. “We would rather play man.”

While Anderson said that his team practices against zone defense every day, it was apparent that the Tigers were out of their element. The team made just two out of its 25 three-point attempts over the Bulldog zone and shot a combined 37 percent from the field. The zone also crushed the majority of Missouri’s attempts to go inside.

“I wouldn’t say the game came down to the three-point margin but if we hit some threes then we get them out of that zone then it’s different,” freshman point guard Terrence Phillips said.

Mississippi State was the polar opposite. The Bulldogs hit six out of their 13 attempts from deep in the first half, in which Missouri went 0-13. The gap in shooting ability led to a 37-20 Mississippi State lead going into halftime.

Missouri would attempt to mount a comeback midway through the second half. The Tigers went on a 15-3 run to bring the score to 55-45.

However, their momentum was halted when a double technical foul was called on Phillips and MSU senior guard Fred Thomas. The referees went into a lengthy review, allowing both teams to catch their breath.

“The double technical gave us a chance to rest,” MSU freshman guard Quinndary Weatherspoon said. “It gave us a chance to catch our breath.”

The Bulldogs would regroup and stifle Missouri for the rest of the game. The game finished with a final score of 76-62.

Up next for Missouri is Ole Miss (13-8, 3-5 SEC). The game will tip off at 8 p.m. Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena. The game can also be viewed on the SEC Network.

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