Grant Green – 23 Sports

Due to Covid-19 protocols this game was moved from the usual Tuesday night games for the SEC, to Wednesday.

 The Missouri Tigers took on a struggling 5-11 Kentucky team at Mizzou arena just days after pulling off one of the more impressive comebacks against TCU in the SEC/BIG 12 Challenge. In a game, Xavier Pinson and Jeremiah Tilmon combined for 69 points and became the only two players to score more than 33 points among SEC players in the 2020-21 season.

After going 1-1 last week with a loss to Auburn, Missouri was barely above .500 in SEC play at 4-3. Another loss would not only take away the Tiger’s chances of an SEC regular-season title but also a spot in the top 25, hurting their March Madness seeding in the process.

Mizzou started solid, up 17-8 with seven and a half minutes into the game, the same players from the TCU game showing out, including Dru Smith, who had a couple of clutch rebounds for the Tigers in that TCU game. Kentucky continued to keep this game manageable, only down five with 8 minutes remaining thanks to Lance Ware with a spin-move layup on Parker Braun. An 8-1 run gave Missouri a 13 point lead into the half up 40-27. Dru Smith’s ten points led all scorers. The Tigers, despite being 12th in the SEC in three-point shooting, shot 7-11 from behind the arc with five different players accounting for a three.

Last week it was Mizzou initiating the comeback, on Wednesday, it was Mizzou now giving away the big lead. Kentucky went on a 15-3 run right out of the half to cut the lead to one on a Brandon Boston Jr. transition three with five and a half minutes in the 2nd half. A 43-42 game was the closest the lead had been since the 16:48 mark in the first half. Over the next five minutes of gameplay, Missouri built up an eight point lead again, attacking the paint well. But Davion Mintz continued his great second half and put up back to back threes, and the lead was once again down to two. Mintz had 14 of his 18 points that led all Kentucky players in the second half.

This back and forth process did not end there Missouri pulled the lead back up to nine in barely over a minute of gameplay. Three minutes after that, the lead is cut to three. Then up to seven, then three again. 

With a minute and fifteen remaining, Mintz once again came up big for Kentucky hitting a three to cut the lead to four, 74-70. Jeremiah Tilmon would be sent to the free-throw line the next possession but came up short on both free throws. 

Unfortunately for Kentucky, over the next two possessions and four shot attempts later, nobody was able to score for the Wildcats, and Mizzou hung on to a 75-70 win at home, Dru Smith led the team with a season high 26 points. Kentucky fell to 5-11 and 4-5 in SEC play. Missouri on the other hand, improved to 12-3 and 5-3 in SEC play.

Kentucky has another tough matchup this Saturday against 11th ranked Tennessee, who are coming off a loss to a very mediocre Ole Miss team. And the Tigers take on the SEC undefeated Alabama in a top 25 showdown at Mizzou Arena. Tip-off at 11:00 a.m.

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