Kyle Hay, 23 Sports

Saturday, December 17—

Saturday evening, the Missouri Tigers (5-4) took on the Eastern Illinois Panthers (6-4) at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers were coming off a disappointing 79-60 loss at home to the Arizona Wildcats and were hoping to respond with a win against underdog Eastern Illinois. However, the Panthers had other plans against the Tigers, as they won 67-64.

The Tigers got off to a slow start in the first half as EIU jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead. Mizzou would strike back with a 3-pointer by Frankie Hughes that sparked a 9-2 run consisting of two more baskets and free throws by Russell Woods. After two free throws by Montell Goodwin, Jordan Geist hit a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up 12-8 with just over 13 minutes to play in the half. Then, after a defensive stop, Cullen VanLeer drained a mid-range jumper to push the Tiger lead to six.

Midway through the half, both teams piped up the defensive pressure. Geist finally got the offense moving, hitting another mid-range jumper for the Tigers. That would be followed by a steal and fast break basket by K.J. Walton to give the Tigers an 18-8 lead.

However, the Panthers would not go away lightly. The Panthers answered with three consecutive mid-range jumpers by Demetrius Reynolds to cut the Tigers’ lead to four points with just over nine minutes to go. Mizzou would respond with a mid-range jumper from Reed Nikko, but the Panthers would continue to claw at the Tigers’ lead as Goodwin hit the mid-range jumper following an Aboubacar Diallo trip to the free throw line.

As the latter stages of the first half approached, both teams’ offensive tempos picked up as they traded baskets like punches in a prize fight. With just over two minutes left in the first half, Diallo threw down a ferocious dunk to trim the lead to three points. Then, with just over 1:30 to go, Casey Teson delivered a timely pass to Goodwin who knocked down the 3-pointer to tie the game up at 30 apiece. Reed Nikko would respond with a short jumper to close out the half and give the Tigers a two-point lead over the Panthers.

In the second half, action picked up right away as Terrence Phillips delivered a pass to Kevin Puryear who would finish the layup to give the Tigers a 34-30 lead. EIU would respond with a big time 3-pointer by junior guard Cornell Johnston and then another 3-pointer by Goodwin to put the Panthers up two. Phillips would answer EIU’s 3-pointers with a 3-pointer of his own.

The early portion of the second half consisted of both teams trading baskets, tying and untying the game. After Phillips tied the game up at 46, the Panthers went on a 7-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Johnston with about 12 minutes to play.

Mizzou responded with a10-2 run following baskets from Jackson and Walton, a vicious dunk from Jordan Barnett, and free throws from Phillips. With Mizzou up one point, the Panthers silenced the Tigers’ run with a 3-pointer from Demetrius McReynolds with just over six minutes left in the game. Jackson then scored five straight points for the Tigers to give them a 61-58 lead over EIU.

But just like every other Mizzou run, the Panthers would respond, this time with a 3-pointer from Goodwin. The Tigers answered with a breakaway dunk from Hughes, but EIU’s Demetrius McReynolds countered with another 3-pointer to put the Panthers up one point with 3:15 left in the game. Then, with under two minutes left, Goodwin hit another 3-pointer for the Panthers to put them up four points. With 48 seconds left in the game, Phillips attacked the basket and drew a foul, sinking just one of two free throws to make it a three-point game.

The Tigers got a big time stop and pushed the ball up court. With time winding down, Phillips launched a contested 3-pointer to potentially send the game to overtime, but the shot was off and EIU escaped with a 67-64 upset over the Tigers. They improved their record to 7-4 while the Tigers fell to 5-5. Goodwin led all scorers with 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting for the Panthers while Willie Jackson led the Tigers with just nine points.

The Tigers’ next opponent will be the 8-3 Illinois Fighting Illini in the Bud Light Braggin’ Rights Classic on December 21.