It was a tale of two halves for the Tigers against Mississippi State.
The Tigers began the game very much like the team that dominated Arkansas in Fayetteville on Saturday, but after the teams returned from the locker rooms at halftime, it was all Bulldogs.
After the game, Cuonzo Martin said, “I thought we had one of our better halves all season in the first half, moving the ball, sharing the ball, defending, protecting the lane. Then in the second half, I just couldn’t tell you (what changed).”
The Tigers were outscored 51-24 in the second half, after leading by 12 at the intermission. The lead evaporated almost immediately when the Bulldogs made a 15-0 run early in the half, which was spearheaded by the 2-headed monster of Iverson Molinar and DJ Stewart, Jr.
Molinar and Stewart were both unstoppable and did most of their damage from midrange. DJ Stewart alone shot 8-10 for 20 points in the second half, nearly matching the Tigers’ team total. Molinar added more of the same as he shot 6-10 for 16 points himself in the second. After the game, Jeremiah Tilmon said, “They hit a lot of tough shots. We just couldn’t stop them, that’s on us. “
The Tigers didn’t help themselves, either, as they turned it over 7 times in the second half after only giveaway in the first. On top of that, the Tigers did not make one trip to the free-throw line after exiting the lockerroom.
To make matters worse, the Tigers, a typically solid rebounding team, were dominated all night by their opponents. When the final whistle blew, Mississippi State won that column on the stat sheet easily by a score of 37-22.
It was a poor performance all around after what looked like an extremely promising first 20 minutes. However, the lone bright spot that came for the Tigers was the play of Jeremiah Tilmon. After having his most impressive performance in a Tiger jersey on Saturday, he followed it up with an efficient 16 points and 6 rebounds as it looks like Tilly could be turning into Mizzou’s most reliable scoring threat.
Adding to Tilmon’s importance to this team, the Bulldogs extending their lead to double digits coincided with Tilmon being sent to the bench in foul trouble, and without him, it was clear that the Tigers were not able to play with their counterparts.
The Tigers will now aim to reset after a demoralizing performance, but both Cuonzo Martin and Tilmon seem adamant that the team’s poor second-half performance will be amended. “We don’t have time to dwell… We just gotta keep moving and learn from our mistakes,” said Tilmon. Martin added, “I am confident we will get it corrected.”