(Photo Credit: Clayton Hotze- MUTigers.com)
There was no court storming Thursday night in Mizzou Arena, but the Missouri Tigers put forth a hearty effort against the nations top college team. The Tigers fell to the Kentucky Widcats 69-53 in front of a season high crowd of 13,034 fans. I doubt anyone expected to see the Tigers hang with the Wildcats after being blown out in their last meeting nonetheless the game had its moments of fun.
Though Kentucky jumped out to a quick lead Johnathan Williams III wasn’t about to let Big Blue ruin the show. He added a quick five points to keep the Tigers in it early. Wes Clark joined in on the action minutes later adding six points on a pair of three-point attempts to give Missouri its first lead of the game 13-12. Clark, who was due for a big game, registered a game high 19 points while adding four rebounds.
Keanau Post ran into early foul trouble giving Ryan Rosburg the opportunity to earn a nice amount of court time. He quickly made the most of it as he threw down a rim-rattling dunk that sent the Missouri crowd into a tizzy.
The Wildcats turned up the tempo with less than six minutes remaining in the first half using an 8-0 run to force Kim Anderson to call a timeout with the Tigers trailing by nine 30-21.
At the half the Tigers trailed by nine 34-25.
Coming out of the break Missouri began to feel the pressure as sloppy play kept them from converting on a field goal for the first four minutes of the half. Luckily Kentucky came out of the break equally as cold as its star center Willie Cauley-Stein couldn’t find any sort of rhythm on the offensive or defensive end.
Behind Clark’s solid shooting performance the Tigers got within six before Kentucky’s depth began to take over. Once Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, and Devin Booker started connecting on open looks it became apparent Missouri was headed for its sixth straight loss.
Kentucky pulled away by as many as 20 in the second half en route to the victory. The Wildcats shot 45 percent from the field on the game and outrebounded Missouri on the boards 34-26. Combined the teams had a ridiculous 54 fouls on the game as the physicality was prevalent throughout.
Overall I was pleased with the performance by the Tigers. Limiting Cauley-Stein to just two points and three rebounds on the night was impressive in itself. Additionally Rosburg’s contribution of eight points off the bench surely earns him some more minutes.
While Missouri is unable to match up against the bigger teams it was interesting to see them find so much success scoring in the paint. The players have recognized how to avoid getting shots blocked and were able to score on easy attempts around the hoop.
With that being said, Missouri still needs to work on controlling the ball and knocking down its shots. A lot of these guys will learn to develop their shot and shoot in traffic, but it would be nice if they had a go to scorer in times of need. If they had a Jordan Clarkson or Jabari Brown or Kim English type player to keep them in the game with the three-point ball it’d do a lot for their confidence as a whole.
Hopefully with guys like Monteque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright, they can become those go to shooters next year.
Up next the Tigers host the Rebels of Ole Miss on Saturday at 3 p.m.
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