Missouri ventured to Baton Rouge Saturday night for their lone meeting with LSU this season. It was a chance for Mizzou to pick up a quality road win and spoil LSU’s NCAA Tournament seeding. Oh, and to also get a bit of payback at former Missouri guard Xavier Pinson, who now starts for LSU (no hard feelings).
The Pete Maravich Center is a tough building to win at, and LSU was coming off of two straight heartbreaking losses at the hands of South Carolina and Kentucky. With this matchup coming right before a road trip to Arkansas and a home date with Alabama, LSU could ill-afford to lose this game if they wanted to avoid a late-season collapse.
It was a close, competitive game early on. Boogie Coleman hit two early 3-pointers, and Mizzou was winning the battle on the glass. However, they were also shooting 20% from the field compared to LSU’s 71.4%, which allowed the Bayou Bengals to take a one point lead into the under twelve timeout.
LSU extended their lead to as much as 10 in the half, but a late surge from Missouri made it a 6-point game going into the break. The score line read 30-24 in favor of LSU.
With Mizzou’s 11 turnovers 28.6% shooting percentage from the field, the visitors had to consider themselves fortunate to only be down by single digits. Javon Pickett led the team with 10 points, but it was on 3/10 shooting, and the rest of the team was struggling from the floor.
Missouri was able to hang with LSU in terms of their physicality, but the offense was sloppy. Despite it all, they still had life at halftime.
That life quickly disappeared, however, as LSU began the second half on a 15-0 run and blitzed Mizzou coming out of the break. The full-court press began to get to Missouri, and the cold shooting continued.
“When it got to the half-court, we didn’t guard at all,” Javon Pickett said. “They did whatever they wanted, and we went out in the second half flat.”
The half wore on, and LSU just continued to stretch out their lead to as much as 25. The second half overall was an uninspiring, sloppy performance from Mizzou, as they never mounted any real form of a comeback.
It was really the same old story for Missouri. They shot an ice cold (35.7%) from the field, along with 20% from 3-point land. The 19 turnovers did not help either, supporting yet another negative trend that has persisted this season.
“It’s about being comfortable handling pressure,” Cuonzo Martin said. “It’s really that simple.”
“Just gotta be strong with the ball, they did a lot of swiping down,” Pickett added. “We also just had a lot of careless turnovers.”
To top it off, Kobe Brown had an off game, going 0/3 from the floor with only two points, in large part because he was battling foul trouble the whole night. This team goes as he does.
Missouri will play at South Carolina on Tuesday, March 1st for their final road game of the season. The Gamecocks (17-11, 8-8) are making a late NCAA Tournament push and will have a lot of pressure on them to win against the Tigers. Tune in to that game at 6:00 CST on ESPNU.