And One: Mays and Days and a Missed Opportunity
Following each Mizzou basketball game this season, we will highlight a few notable takeaways from the performance in the ‘And-One.’
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MAYS AND DAYS TOO MUCH FOR MIZZOU
The collapse this year was more gradual, but Cuonzo Martin is going to have nightmares about double-digit leads against LSU. A year after blowing a 14-point lead in the final two minutes in Columbia, Missouri saw a 13-point first half lead evaporate in an 82-78 loss in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
The visiting Tigers lead for almost all of the game's first 35 minutes. A Javon Pickett jumper put Mizzou up 69-65 with 6:56 to play. LSU would run off the next seven points, taking a 72-69 lead on a Darius Days three-pointer with 4:44 to play. Prior to that shot, LSU had led for just 22 seconds.
It remained a one possession game under the two-minute mark, but a Skylar Mays layup pushed the LSU lead to five at 76-71. Following a Pickett bucket, it was Days' turn again. Mitchell Smith blocked a Trendon Watford shot, but Days gathered the loose ball with five seconds left on the shot clock and threw up a half hook shot from about 12 feet that found the bottom of the next and put LSU back up five with just 25 seconds to play, Missouri would not get the ball with a chance to tie the game again.
Mays, who Cuonzo Martin said on Monday would get his vote for SEC Player of the Year right now, led LSU with 23 points on just 11 field goal attempts. Days added 20 and 10 rebounds. The pair combined to go 17-for-18 from the free throw line, including two by Days to push the LSU lead to five with 11 seconds left, enough to withstand a late three-pointer from Dru Smith.
Missouri led the game for 32 minutes and 46 seconds while LSU was on top for just 5:05. But the home Tigers led at the right time and the visiting Tigers lost their 15th consecutive road game against a ranked opponent. Missouri's last road win over a ranked team came on January 21, 2012 at No. 3 Baylor.
ANOTHER FOUL FEST
Missouri entered this game 324th in the country, committing 20.6 fouls per game. The Tigers hit that number with more than 11 minutes to play on Tuesday night.
LSU stayed in the game by making 17-of-20 free throws in the first half when they couldn't make much of anything from the field. For the game, LSU finished 29-34 from the free throw line. Missouri was just 7-for-13.
On the season, Mizzou opponents are scoring 25.6% of their points from the free throw line. LSU's 29 free throws were a season-high and accounted for 35.3% of their points in the game. Tray Jackson and Reed Nikko both played the final 11 minutes with four fouls. Nikko fouled out on an intentional foul with less than a second left.
Missouri was called for 25 fouls and LSU 15. At least it was less than the 59 Mizzou and Arkansas combined for three days ago.
BENCH COMES UP BIG
LSU played only six players more than seven minutes so it's not a shock Missouri had an edge in bench scoring. But the 23-2 advantage the visiting Tigers held was staggering.
Mitchell Smith led the way with 10 points and six rebounds off the bench for Cuonzo Martin in 24 minutes. Smith got it going early with activity on the offensive glass and diving for loose balls. Tray Jackson added nine points and four rebounds in a second straight solid effort. That duo covered for Kobe Brown who started, but had just three points and two turnovers in 11 minutes. While Jackson was on the floor, Mizzou outscored LSU by six points. Torrence Watson (+1) was the only other Tiger who had a positive plus/minus for the game.
Parker Braun also provided Martin some spark off the bench. With foul trouble hampering the Tigers, Braun had a blocked shot and a bucket in a three-minute stretch during which Mizzou pushed its lead from three points to eight.
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM: Missouri isn't as far off as the record makes it seem. The Tigers had a 12-point lead in the first half and led a ranked team on the road for almost all of the first 35 minutes. Missouri did not finish and that has been an issue at times this season. But playing without two guys who most believed would be among their three best players before the season, Mizzou went blow for blow with one of the SEC's best teams on its home court until it ran out of gas late.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN: The foul disparity is glaring and it would be easy to blame the officiating. There certainly were some calls that were questionable. However, when it's happening virtually every game, at some point Mizzou has to look in the mirror. The Tigers foul a lot. And it has hurt them all season long. Now and again they'll run into a team that hacks even more than they do (like they did on Saturday against Arkansas). But Missouri simply isn't good enough to continue to give opposing teams so many chances at free points.
STOCK UP: Dru Smith. Despite a bad ankle, Smith played 37 minutes against LSU and led Mizzou with 20 points and added five rebounds, four assists and three steals. The TV broadcast mentioned that Cuonzo Martin said with all the injuries Missouri has going on, Smith might be hurt the worst. He hasn't missed a game. That wasn't an empty comment from the coach. Smith's toughness is noticed. On one play, Smith fell down as he was shooting, hopped back up and put back his own miss.
STOCK DOWN: Kobe Brown. The freshman has hit a bit of a wall of late. Has scored just 14 points and had 13 rebounds in the Tigers' last five games. Half of the points came in the 68-51 loss to Texas A&M.
UP NEXT: Missouri (11-13, 3-8) hosts No. 11 Auburn (21-2, 8-2) on Saturday evening. Tipoff is set for 5:00 p.m.