Mizzou loses heartbreaker to Texas A&M
basketball Edit

And-One: Third straight loss another low point for Mizzou


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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Mizzou sets NCAA record

Even though Missouri has dropped each of Its last two games, the Tigers accomplished something that had never been done across the past two contests. After making all 31 of their free throw attempts Saturday at Alabama, Missouri started 23 of 23 from the line Tuesday. The 54 consecutive makes broke a 15-year-old NCAA record. Wake Forest previously held the mark at 50.

Point guard Dru Smith made a pair of free throws with 1:58 remaining to tie and then break the record. That seemed fitting, since Smith finished Tuesday 11-for-11 from the stripe and has made all 18 of his attempts over the past two games.

Unfortunately, the streak came to an end at an inopportune time. Mitchell Smith went to the line with team trailing by two points with 28 seconds remaining. After making the first free throw, Smith missed the second. Missouri ultimately finished 25-26 from the free throw line and lost by two points.

Cuonzo Martin and his players said after the game that, although It's cool to be able to claim a record, they would have rather escaped with a win.

“Those guys did something that will go down in history," Martin said, "but all those guys will say they wanted to win the game more than anything.”

Late clock plays provide good looks

Torrence Watson's three-pointer at the buzzer would have lifted Missouri over Texas A&M had it fallen.
Torrence Watson's three-pointer at the buzzer would have lifted Missouri over Texas A&M had it fallen. (Jessi Dodge)

Even after Mitchell Smith's missed free throw, Missouri had a few opportunities to tie or win the game. Martin drew up two plays out of timeout that successfully created open looks. Unfortunately for the Tigers, both shots rimmed out.

The first came when Missouri trailed by three points with nine seconds remaining. Martin had Dru Smith receive an Inbounds pass, drive nearly the length of the court, but stop when he got inside the three-point line. Dru Smith had attracted two defenders, and he pitched the ball backward to Mark Smith for an open look from three. The 39.3-percent three-point shooter saw his shot bounce in and out.

Later, in an even more desperate situation, Martin had to get creative. Martin used his final timeout after Texas A&M's Emanuel Miller made a free throw to give the Aggies a two-point lead with 2.1 seconds remaining. He had Mark Smith, a former high school baseball player, throw a pass the length of the court diagonally, from one baseline to the other. Rarely-used freshman Parker Braun set a screen for Torrence Watson, then leapt into the air, caught Mark Smith's pass and dished the ball to Watson, all in one motion. The result gave Watson an uncontested three-pointer from the left wing.

Had the shot fallen, Missouri would have won. It clanged off the back Iron.

"I actually thought Torrence made It," Mark Smith said. "The whole play looked good.

Brown, Jackson don't play

Missouri was without freshman wing Kobe Brown Tuesday. Brown suited up for the game but didn't see the court. A team spokesperson said he was "under the weather."

Brown is averaging 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game this season, but he has been better during conference play, scoring 9.8 per game. His most valuable quality has been his ability to drive to the rim and score or make plays for others, something the Tigers sorely lacked for much of the game against Texas A&M.

"It’s definitely tough when you have a guy like that out," Dru Smith said of Brown. "I think Kobe’s very versatile, and I think he could have helped us on the defensive end, especially, with (Savion) Flagg, just being a big body that we could get on him. ... We need Kobe to be back as soon as he can."

Fellow freshman wing Tray Jackson also didn't play Tuesday, though that was a coach's decision. Jackson has seen his playing time yo-yo all season, and this marks the fourth time in 18 games he hasn't seen the floor.

Game at a Glance

CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM: This Missouri team will live on in the record books. The Tigers hit their first 23 free throws, which gave them 54 in a row over two games. That surpassed Wake Forest's 50 in a row over two games in 2005. The Demon Deacons were ranked third in the country when they did it. Missouri is not.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN: The shooting from literally anywhere else. Mizzou was 9-for-35 from three point range and currently has the third-worst three-point percentage of any team in Mizzou history (the three-pointer became a thing in college basketball in 1987). Mizzou made just 6-of-15 from inside the arc against the Aggies, and the game really turned when the Tigers missed two layups and A&M got a run out dunk to extend the lead to 59-51. Missouri made a late charge with some help from A&M, but it wasn't enough when Watson's three-pointer at the buzzer became Mizzou's 27th to miss the mark.

STOCK UP: Dru Smith. It might seem strange to say after a game where he turned the ball over five times, including an offensive foul (which, to be fair, was questionable) with 10 seconds left. But Smith had 18 points on just six shots. He went 11-11 from the free throw line. He added eight points and eight assists and he is a legitimate threat to have a triple-double at some point during his time as a Tiger. The numbers suggest he should probably take more of Missouri's shots, especially in games where everyone else seems to be struggling to make them.

STOCK DOWN: Xavier Pinson. After a promising start, Pinson has struggled of late. It came to a head with a four-point, four-turnover performance in which he shot 2 of 8 in 25 minutes. The Tigers need someone to help Smith out. Pinson can get in the lane, but he's got to finish or find teammates. It's not happening enough right now.

UP NEXT: Missouri (9-9, 1-5) will travel to West Virginia (15-3, 4-2 Big 12) on Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. in Morgantown.