Mizzou Tigers basketball blows 10-point halftime lead, falls to Texas A&M at home

L.G. Patterson/AP
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The Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team led by as many as 13 points on Saturday but repeatedly let Texas A&M back in the game en route to a 67-64 loss at Mizzou Arena.

Mizzou (7-9, 1-3 SEC) allowed the Aggies (15-2, 4-0 SEC) to make 15 of 29 shots (51.7%) in the second half and was outscored by 13 points in the final frame, wiping away the Tigers’ double-digit advantage at the break.

The Tigers committed 11 turnovers in the second half and 17 in the game. They’ve had double-digit turnovers in five consecutive games, four of which have ended in losses.

“It was a tough one,” MU coach Cuonzo Martin said. “As hard as it is to win games, we have to find ways not to beat ourselves. Because some of those turnovers ... it’ll be a struggle to watch some of those, especially when there’s nothing that took place to make you turn the ball over.”

Mizzou had a shot to win it at the end. But a last-second heave from guard Jarron ‘Boogie’ Coleman wouldn’t fall.

“It’s frustrating because that was definitely a winnable game,” Coleman said. “We had the game in our hands. I feel like we took our foot off the gas once we had a lead and then it was just ... [defensive] breakdowns.”

At the start of the contest, everything was going in Mizzou’s favor.

The Tigers made their first four shots, including two three-pointers from guard DaJuan Gordon, while the Aggies missed their first five. With Mizzou off to a 10-0 start, Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams called timeout with 16:53 left and took out all of his starters.

The Aggies didn’t score a point through the first two media timeouts. Mizzou played with intensity on defense, forcing A&M to miss 13 consecutive shots.

“We were bodying up,” MU guard Javon Pickett said. “On defense ... kind of set a physical tone in the beginning with a lot of communication.”

But up 12-2, Mizzou endured its own scoring drought — the Tigers missed nine shots in a row.

The Aggies went nearly nine minutes without any points, then scored 12 in a little over three minutes to make it a 18-12 game with 8:04 remaining in the first half.

As many times as Texas A&M tried to get back into the game, the Tigers seemed to have a response. They held a 34-24 lead at halftime; the Aggies shot just 26.5% in the first half and Missouri outscored them 20-12 in the paint.

Texas A&M started the second half well, cutting MU’s lead to four, but Missouri had a response. Within a few minutes, the lead was back in double-digits, 51-41.

But that didn’t last long. The Tigers once again let down their guard. The Aggies went on a 7-0 run in less than two minutes to make it a three-point game at 51-48 with a little under nine minutes left.

It was a closely contested affair the rest of the way, Missouri no longer in control.

“They scored at will when they wanted to, I think, (for) about the last seven minutes,” Pickett said. “We’ve just got to stick to what was working for us in the first half, and us as players, we didn’t do that. ... That’s just on us. We’ve got to be better.”

With a little over a minute left, Texas A&M guard Tyrece Radford sank a layup and the Aggies led 63-61. Forward Kobe Brown then had a chance to tie it with a bonus free-throw opportunity, but he missed the shot.

The Aggies made two free throws with around 30 seconds left, once again proving they weren’t going to let off the gas like the Tigers had throughout.

With Missouri trailing 65-61 with six seconds left, guard Coleman drained a three to make it a one-point game. After A&M made two shots at the line, Missouri had 3.8 seconds left to win it.

But their final shot — which Martin said he wanted to go to Brown — banged off the heel of the rim, and they dropped a game they should have won.

“You gotta have grit, you gotta want to win and we’ve got to finish out the game,” Pickett said. “We didn’t do that at all.”

Here are some key takeaways from the game:

Outplayed on the boards

One of Missouri’s strengths had been its play on the offensive glass. Before Saturday, the Tigers had averaged 12.7 offensive rebounds per game this season.

But it was Texas A&M that held the advantage on the boards Saturday. The Aggies had 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 14 second-chance points — nine of which came in the second half.

The Tigers had just five, their fewest in a game this season. As a result, they scored just four second-chance points.

A&M outrebounded Mizzou 38-34. Though the Tigers held a three-rebound advantage on the defensive boards, that disparity on the offensive glass was a key factor in Saturday’s loss.

Foul trouble

Several Missouri players were burdened by foul trouble against Texas A&M.

Brown has been Missouri’s best player this season — by a long shot — but he’s also often dealt with foul trouble in the first half of games this season.

On Saturday, Brown picked up his second foul about nine and half minutes into the game. With Missouri up 12-4 at the time, Martin pulled him and sat him for the rest of the first half.

In past games, the Tigers completely fell apart with Brown out, or at the very least weren’t as efficient. But that didn’t play as big of a factor against the Aggies. The Tigers were still up by double digits, 34-24, at halftime.

More players got into foul trouble in the second half, though.

Gordon picked up his third foul with a little over 15 minutes left. Pickett did the same less than a minute later. Nearly two minutes after that, Brown had three, too.

Brown committed his fourth foul with a little over eight minutes left in the game and Pickett had his fourth with a little over five minutes left. Though Brown sat for a short period of time after, for the most part, both stayed in the game, trying to defend without fouling. That coincided with the team letting up on defense.

Texas A&M made 22 trips to the free-throw line Saturday, scoring 15 points.

Lack of production from Kobe Brown

For the second straight game, Missouri didn’t get the production it needed from Brown.

Though he grabbed nine rebounds and had three assists, the junior forward scored just seven points Saturday. He attempted just seven shots from the floor — making three — and turned the ball over three times.

“They switched a lot of actions,” Martin said when asked about Brown’s struggles. “What I didn’t think he did aggressively tonight was post. ... When they got guards on him, we have to take advantage of it and post him. We got to get the ball into him quickly.”

This came after Brown scored just six points in Wednesday night’s loss to Arkansas. The two performances mark the first time this season that he’s been held in single-digit scoring for consecutive games.

The Tigers will need more from Brown moving forward.

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