A cold stretch of shooting in the second half for Missouri cost the Tigers an opportunity to pull off the upset at #3 Florida, as the Tigers lost 68-58, Tuesday night in Gainesville, FL.
The 58 points was the lowest output of the season for Missouri, against a team known for its defense. As aggressive as Florida was in attacking Missouri offensive players, I question the discrepancy of 26 fouls called against Mizzou and only 16 for Florida. At one point in the second half, Missouri was whistled for seven straight fouls, before one was called on the Gators. Some of that had to do with Florida working the ball inside more, but the Tigers went inside early and often as well.
“We knew it was going to be a slugfest,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “We were OK with that. … Our game plan was good, and we were executing. Then they got going. They got it in the paint, they got to the free throw line and got aggressive there in the second half, and that was the difference in the game.”
Haith is correct, the game plan was working. Florida got open looks but the shots were ugly in the first half against the Tigers zone. The Gators shot a miserable 1-for-11 from three point range in the first 20 minutes, before moving to more of an inside-out approach.
Missouri’s three-point shooting kept the Tigers in it for much of the game, hitting 8-of-21, but only 4-for-13 in the second half.
Wes Clark hit a three with 7:22 to play to pull Mizzou to 51-48, but Michael Frazier canned his second three in back-to-back possessions to make it a six point lead. The Tigers then went in an 0-for-7 slump over the next 4:08 to see the three-point deficit climb to nine and then as many as 11 in the closing three minutes of the game.
Jabari Brown led the Tigers with 15 points while Jordan Clarkson added 14. Brown’s long three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half put the Tigers up 28-25. It was the first time all season, Florida trailed at the break on their home court.
“They made shots and we didn’t. That’s pretty much it,” Brown said. “I don’t know what else to say about it. We got some good looks, but we didn’t make the shots.”
Scottie Wilbekin finished with a career-high 19 points for the Gators. He was 13-of-16 from the free throw line, most of them down the stretch. Young chipped in 13 points and six rebounds.