At times during Tuesday’s game between the Missouri Tigers and No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers, the upset-minded Tigers were able to keep pace with the visiting Volunteers. Unfortunately, for Missouri, like so many other times this year, they experienced extended offensive lulls that doomed them.
When the two teams headed to their benches for the second media timeout of the first half, the score was all knotted at 17, and both teams were finding success offensively, shooting over 50% from the field. However, when they returned to the floor, Missouri lost their edge and became careless, and Tennessee capitalized.
A five-minute scoring drought by the Tigers, compounded with five Missouri turnovers, allowed the Volunteers to go on a 13-0 run led by superstar freshman Kennedy Chandler. From there they never looked back, and the Tigers never cut the lead to closer than 6 after that run.
The aforementioned Chandler proved too much all night for Missouri to handle with his smooth stroke from deep and his tenacious drives, and he finished with 23 points on 9-12 shooting while adding 6 assists and 8 rebounds.
“A lot of that is on me, I didn’t defend him well this game,” DaJuan Gordon said about Chandler’s explosive game. “It was really that I let him beat me in transition.”
Head coach Cuonzo Martin added, “He’s not afraid to get in the lane and make plays. He pushes the ball fast. He attacked he went backdoor, he scored in transition. “
Victor Bailey Jr. also put forth a strong performance for Rick Barnes as he returned to his father’s alma mater — his dad played WR for the Tigers in the ‘80s — with 11 points of his own, and veteran guard Santiago Vescovi added another 14, including 11 in the second half.
The Volunteers defeated the Tigers 80-61 in dominating fashion, but it wasn’t just the Chandler show. The Volunteers dominated the Tigers in the paint, outscoring them 34-24, and played stellar defense all night, holding Missouri to 37% shooting.
A big contribution to that poor shooting performance were the five-minute field goal drought in the first half and a seven-minute scoring drought in the second half.
“When teams start switching one through five, and they started switching five ways, it comes down to making one on one plays, and that’s an area we need to continue to grow in,” Martin said after the game.
Good games from Javon Pickett, DaJuan Gordon, and Kobe Brown, who all scored in double figures, were hardly enough to keep pace with Rick Barnes’ team.
Despite this being the fourth game the Tigers have had in the last seven days, Cuonzo Martin stuck to his no excuses mantra after the game. “You’ve got to get out there and play and perform,” he said. “It is what it is.”
The Tigers will now be off until Saturday when they play LSU in Baton Rouge.