A&M Hands Mizzou Another Road Loss

Thursday, Feb. 7-

To be or not to be a contender, that is the question for the Missouri men’s basketball team. It was a tale of two halves for the Tigers tonight in College Station as they lost to Texas A&M 70-68.

The No. 21 Tigers (16-6 5-4 SEC) came into the game without a true road win and hoped to right the ship against the Aggies (14-8 4-5). However, they came away disappointed with a devastating loss in the final minute after coming back from being down 14 points with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Nothing could go right for the Mizzou in the first half with the Aggies hitting seemingly every shot they took and the Tigers content to let them have open shots. On the offensive end it wasn’t much better as Phil Pressey and his SEC leading 7.2 assists per game looked lost. He finished the half with only one assist and three turnovers.

The second half started nearly as badly as the first for Mizzou, with Texas A&M dominating the paint and the Tigers continuing to make the same bad decisions it made in the first 20 minutes. The Aggies established a 54-40 lead with 12:03 remaining in the contest.

A few minutes later what seemed to be another mental error by Mizzou started to swing the momentum. With 6:28 left to go, Alex Oriakhi got tangled up with an A&M player and threw him to the floor earning a flagrant foul. He then proceeded to swat the hand of another Aggie, drawing a technical and sending himself to the bench with four fouls. Elston Turner hit two of the three technical free throws to push the lead back to double digits and nearly deflate the Tigers’ hopes.

Then the Tigers attacked, getting to the free throw line again and again. They forced A&M to settle for jumpers and swarmed the glass. After back-to-back Pressey jumpers, it was a two-point game.

Keion Bell threw down a thunderous baseline dunk off of a beautiful pass from Pressey to tie it. After a Turner bucket answered, Laurence Bowers gave the Tigers their first lead of the game with 52 seconds left.

Following a defensive stop, Pressey committed a costly turnover, giving A&M a final opportunity. In the games deciding sequence, Mizzou was so worried about Turner down low that it seemingly forgot about Fabyon Harris, and left him open for an easy three pointer with 11 seconds left. Coach Frank Haith didn’t use a timeout and Pressey immediately jacked up a three of his own from the top that was no good. Keion Bell’s second effort didn’t fall either and no foul was called on the physical play.

The contest was a microcosm of conference play for the squad, while road woes continue to plague the Tigers. Mizzou will look to turn around from another road loss and follow it with a home win again against Mississippi at 12 p.m. Saturday.

-Mike Bonomo
23 Sports
Staff Writer