(Photo Credit: Ryan Leopando)
Turnovers were the difference maker Monday night in Maui as the Missouri Tigers fell to the #3 Arizona Wildcats 72-53 in the quarterfinal matchup of the Maui Invitational. Missouri committed 17 turnovers compared to Arizona’s seven.
Missouri kept it close early on moving the ball well, jumping out to 7-2 lead. Though Arizona’s ability to attack the basket and lock down defensively gave them the upper hand through the majority of the contest. A 12-2 run by Arizona pushed the Wildcats ahead of the Tigers 14-9 at the 11 minute mark of the first half. The Wildcats received help from five Missouri turnovers as the Tigers looked unable to keep control of the ball.
Down by six Missouri remained resilient as an 8-2 run capped off by a Montaque Gill-Caeser and-one tied the game at 21-21. However a missed three-point jumper by Namon Wright halted the momentum as Elliott Pitts connected on the other end to power a Wildcat 5-0 run heading into halftime. At the break Missouri trailed Arizona 32-35.
Missouri big man Ryan Rosburg ran into early foul trouble causing him to miss the majority of the first half. Rosburg added a mere four points and five rebounds for the game. His replacement Keanau Post added six points and eight rebounds as the Tigers beat the Wildcats on the boards 35-33.
Despite the slow start the Wildcats regrouped and dominated Missouri down the stretch in the first half. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley provided the biggest boost for the Wildcats each contributing 15 points for the game. The Wildcats shot 43.6 percent from the floor, while the Tigers continued to struggle hitting 36.4 percent of their shots on the evening.
In the second half Missouri continued to struggle shooting the ball as has been the case throughout the season. Arizona’s ability to capitalize on free throws helped build its lead throughout the second half. The Wildcats shot 76 percent from the charity striped compared to Missouri’s 69 percent.
Gill-Caesar was once again the high scorer for the Tigers with 13 points, but struggled going just 2-7 from the field. Keith Shamburger produced a quality performance adding 11 points, three assists and a pair of rebounds.
All in all I think this is all we expected out of this Missouri team going up against a much sounder Arizona squad. As players continue to learn their place in Kim Anderson’s system adjustments still need to be made. The Tigers defense continues to be the backbone and the offense continues to struggle.
Taking smart shots and capitalizing on open looks is something the Tigers did not do well in this contest. They have to be able to connect on wide-open threes and easy points in the paint if they want to produce victories. Once this team is able to run plays fluidly and can execute their offense I think we’ll start to see some of these issues dissolve.
With the loss Missouri moves to 2-2 on the season and takes on Purdue in the losers bracket on Tuesday.
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