Eleanor Sheahan – 23 Sports

With nine ties and 11 different lead changes, both these Tiger teams played a cutthroat game. On Saturday in CoMo, the Missouri Tigers hosted the visiting LSU Tigers. 

Throughout the first half, Mizzou and LSU had very different offensive strategies. Mizzou worked to pass the ball inside to Jeremiah Tilmon or to drive and draw the foul. While LSU chucked up threes and gave the ball to their team leader and the leading scorer in the SEC, Cameron Thomas. 

Not only were both teams extremely active, but so were the refs. Both teams were in foul trouble early in the first half. LSU racked up many offensive fouls, while Missouri continued to turn over the ball. 

Missouri’s offense struggled to get started. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, Missouri went two for ten on three-pointers. Xavier Pinson hit the first three-pointer for Mizzou, but they were down 24-14 with nine minutes left in the half. 

To keep Missouri in this game, Coach Cuonzo Martin made a power move by subbing in both Drew Buggs and Torrence Watson. Just moments off the bench Watson slashed a three-pointer. Missouri slowly obtained more and more momentum, especially after Trendon Watford on LSU got a technical foul. Following teammate Watson’s lead, Drew Buggs also came off the bench to hit a three-pointer giving light to Missouri’s offensive. Buggs three-pointer made it 32-27, tightening the score. Watson again drained a three to make it a one-point game 37-36 with just over three minutes left in the half. 

As Missouri’s offensive started up, so did their defense. Javon Pickett and Kobe Brown pressured LSU’s top players, causing the visiting Tiger to struggle offensively. With 30 seconds left in the half and down 40-37, Missouri’s Mitchell Smith ripped a three-pointer to make it 40-40. LSU had the last possession, but they missed a layup and both the Tiger’s teams went to the locker room tied 40-40 at the half. 

LSU had a substantial lead in the first half, up by 11. Cameron Thomas led LSU with 13 points in the first half. But thanks to both Buggs and Watson coming off the bench for Mizzou, the momentum changed. Watson’s nine points and Buggs’s seven points allowed Missouri to tie the game going into the second half.  

Knotted up at 40-40, LSU opens up the second half with a layup. Meanwhile, Mizzou got their first two points of the second half by a pass from Tilmon to Kobe Brown and a slam dunk! Mizzou started strong inside the paint with Brown and Tilmon stacking up layups. A steal from Dru Smith and a smooth pass to Pinson allowed for a toilet bowl layup, Mizzou took a 48-46 lead. 

Four minutes into the half LSU’s Watford walked into the paint and scored an easy two points for the visiting Tigers. Pinson responded with another three to make it 51-48, Missouri. 

Both teams had eight turnovers, but the refs backed off and allowed the Tigers to compete with each other. 

Free throws from Dru Smith, strong defense from Kobe Brown and two points from Mark Smith put Missouri up by five with 10 minutes to go in the game. But with any lead Missouri had, LSU’s Cameron Thomas responded and this time with a three-pointer. Thomas nailed his 21st point of the game, right at the top of the key, giving the lead back to LSU 69-68. 

The ball game was tied 70-70 with just over five minutes left. Mizzou’s Dru Smith drained a three with 4:24 left and forced LSU to take a time out. The game continued to go back and forth. Missouri has held the lead for much of the second half, but a three-pointer from Thomas put LSU up 77-73 with 3:06 to go.  

Mitchell Smith fought hard to get two points and tie this game 80-80. LSU picked up two points, stopped Mizzou’s offense, and then grabbed another two points which forced Missouri to take a time out. Mizzou down by two possessions with 20 secs left, the pressure was on. 

With seconds left in the game, Pinson missed a three-pointer which forced the home Tigers to foul and LSU went up 86-80. LSU headed back to Baton Rouge victorious 86-80 over the CoMo tigers. 

At the end of the game, Missouri’s team effort was just not enough to beat Cameron Thomas and the LSU Tigers this time. 

Both teams will play in the SEC Championship tournament on March 11.

About Smith, Kayler (MU-Student)

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