Mizzou blown out by Arizona

Mizzou blown out by Arizona

Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf

Kyle Hay, 23 Sports

Saturday, December 10—

Saturday morning, the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team took on the No. 20 Arizona Wildcats after back-to-back wins against Western Kentucky and Miami (OH). Even though the Tigers were massive underdogs, they were still looking to protect their house at Mizzou Arena and steal one away from the Wildcats.

Things started off slow for the Tigers in the first half as the Wildcats jumped out to a quick 8-0 advantage, led by 3-pointers from Kadeem Allen and Rawle Alkins. Then, with just over 16 minutes to play in the first half, Cullen VanLeer drained a 3-pointer to give the Tigers their first points of the game. However, Arizona’s offense was clicking on all cylinders as Alkins, Allen and Kobi Simmons would all pitch in to give Arizona a 25-10 lead with just over 10:14 to play in the half.

On the other side of the ball, Mizzou could not get into a rhythm as the Wildcats stifled anything the Tigers tried to throw at them. The Tigers continued to fight, though. Terrence Phillips attacked the basket on consecutive possessions to draw fouls and get to the free throw line. After sinking three of four free throws, the Tigers got a much needed stop and capitalized when Frankie Hughes drained a mid-range jumper to make the score 29-17 with just over eight minutes left in the first half.

However, Arizona would push the lead back to 15 thanks to a 3-pointer made by Lauri Markkanen. Mizzou would strike back, though, as Hughes got in a rhythm, nailing a 3-pointer and following it with two free throws. The Tigers cut the lead to 10 points and kept it there until Dusan Ristic of Arizona hit a mid-range jumper to push their lead to 12 with just over two minutes left in the half. Mizzou combated this with a monster run to close out the half thanks to a 3-pointer by VanLeer, a layup by Russell Woods and then two more free throws by VanLeer to make it a 41-36 ball game going into the half.

Despite the early struggles in the first half, the Tigers found themselves within striking distance to make a push for the lead in the second half.

The Tigers kept it close early in the second half and even got the lead down to four points with just over 16 minutes to play. After two Ristic free throws, Mitchell Smith drew a foul and was sent to the line, where he made one of two. Arizona would then come down at the other end and find an open Allen for three. With the score 50-42, Jordan Geist got fouled and made one of two free throws. Kevin Puryear then followed that up with two more free throws to cut the lead down to five points.

However, Arizona began to flex its muscles again. With just over 13 minutes left to play, Alkins hit another 3-pointer to push the lead back to eight. Then, after two Ristic free throws, Alkins hit another 3-pointer to make the score 58-45. The 3-pointers would not stop there. With over 10 minutes to play, Kobi Simmons drained a 3-pointer and then followed that up with another 3-pointer on the next possession to give the Wildcats a 64-45 advantage. It was smooth sailing from then on as the Wildcats got the lead up to 26 points with under five minutes to play. The final score was 79-60.

Much of Arizona’s productivity on offense can be credited to their execution. They did not miss open shots and capitalized on Mizzou’s miscues. They shot a red hot 54 percent (13-for-24) from 3-point range for the game and 47.5 percent from the field altogether. They also played lockdown defense at the other end, holding Mizzou to just 32.7 percent shooting from the field. One thing the Tigers did well was get to the free throw line. They knocked down 20 of 30 free throw attempts against the Wildcats’ eight of 10.

The Tigers are now 5-4 and will play the Eastern Illinois Panthers, who are also 5-4, on Dec. 17.