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Tigers can’t find enough offense in Starkville, drop fourth straight game

Missouri falls to 12-15 on the season on the same day Mark Smith is declared out for the season.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

On the same day Missouri announced its best two-way player would miss the rest of the season, it was more evident than ever how much the Tigers needed him.

The Tigers pulled with five points several times in the last quarter of the game, but couldn't overcome a late barrage of threes from Quinndary Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter, falling to the Mississippi State Bulldogs 68-49.

Freshman Torrence Watson led the way for the offensively challenged Tigers, scoring 12 points on three of eight shooting. Jeremiah Tilmon chipped in 11 points and six boards, but no one else managed more than seven points, and the Tigers dropped their fourth straight contest.

Sam will have more on the actual game tomorrow in Study Hall. But instead of rehashing this outing more than once — which, let’s admit, none of us want to do — let’s examine how Twitter reacted to the loss.

Weirdly enough, something tells me that if every team in the country (A) lost their best player for the season to injury, (B) put their second best player on the bench because of NCAA rules and (C) missed their third best player for a third of a season because of an injury, they’d all have a hard time competing.

Mississippi State is a top 25 team by KenPom and Missouri is in the 90s. Upsets don’t happen when one squad is limping down the stretch and the other is gearing up for a March run.

It’s been tough sledding for the big man in his first two years. We’ve obviously seen stretches where he thoroughly dominates, but for some reason the aggressiveness and lack of control has continued to lead to foul trouble.

The good news is Tilmon seems to have figured out a way to be productive when he’s on the court. Even on a night when he battled foul trouble and struggled to shoot, the sophomore still contributed 11 and 6, which may still be useful when the Tigers have more offensive weapons around. But when only one other Tiger manages to hit double-digits, Tilmon’s off nights won’t do anyone any good.

Watson has been the most perplexing of the three freshmen this season, if only because we’re still waiting for him to realize the vast potential we saw from his high school days. While Javon Pickett has been a pleasant surprise and Xavier Pinson has had typical freshmen struggles, Watson has continuously struggled with offensive consistency and defensive mishaps.

The freshman was good tonight, mostly choosing to shoot the long ball and going three of seven. While it’s been nice to see Watson’s boldness from the outside, the team would be better off if Watson got a little more aggressive going to the bucket and getting to the line. Once he rediscovers that part of his game from his time at Whitfield, he’ll be one step closer to the potential All SEC guard we initially hoped he could be in a few years.

We feel you, brother.

Missouri is off until Saturday, when they’ll take on the South Carolina Gamecocks (14-13, 9-5) in Columbia, Mo.