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Mizzou’s offense disappears in the second half as they fall to Memphis 70-55

In a battle of Tigers, Memphis prevailed behind a suffocating defensive performance.

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

With under two minutes left and Memphis up by 16, Jesus Carralero had a wide open layup. He’d spun off of a smaller Memphis defender in the post, and there was nothing else between him and the basket other than oxygen.

He missed.

It was an encapsulation of a rough offensive night for Mizzou, who crumbled in the second half after a promising first half.

The start to Friday’s game was completely different from the end. Offensively, the ball was popping early on for the home Tigers. Whether it was a dump off, kickout or swing, the ball found the hands of several Mizzou jerseys on several scoring possessions. Their constant movement on offense was more apparent due to Memphis’ isolation-heavy offense on the other end of the court.

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

Defensively, Mizzou was popping the ball out of Memphis’ grasp frequently. Despite Memphis possessing a size advantage, they struggled maintaining possession. Mizzou continuously got their hands in passing lanes and knocked the ball out of a blue jersey’s grasp a handful of times.

However, the half belonged to Sean East II. After leading the Tigers in points against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday with 21, East came out the gates firing on Friday. The graduate guard dropped 14 in the first half, which included five makes on his first seven shot attempts.

East was oozing confidence with the ball in his hands. Similarly to Monday, he attacked the basket with, at most, minimal fear of contact; in fact, he was often the one initiating it. East also took advantage of busted defensive coverages by Memphis, which led to an open layup and an open three. The Tigers led 33-26 at halftime.

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The second half saw the script flip immediately, as Memphis was finally able to take advantage of their superior height. They knocked down a pair of threes over outstretched arms of smaller white jerseys, and Memphis was able to generate frequent paint touches as well as makes. With Missouri unable to generate open looks against a suddenly smothering Memphis defense, the road Tigers opened the half on a 17-2 run to take a ten point lead that only ballooned from there.

“That core nucleus of the game, I thought Memphis was able to win,” Gates said. “We got eight or nine stops, and we weren’t able to capitalize on the advantages that we created by coming {down} with the rebound, getting the open looks that we got.”

There were a handful of possessions where Mizzou could’ve taken back momentum, but they kept coming up empty-handed. The movement and passing that was ever-present in the first half almost disappeared entirely in the second half. The home Tigers shot just 5/26 in the final 10 minutes and struggled mightily on the glass, while Memphis kept finding a plethora of open opportunities around the basket. Final score: Memphis 70, Mizzou 55.

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Despite being shut out in the second half, East led the way with 14 points, followed by Noah Carter with 10. Everyone not named Nick Honor or Sean East shot a combined 2/21 from three. Caleb Grill had the worst shooting struggles throughout the night of anyone, shooting just 2/11 from the field and 1/8 from three.

However, Gates continuously mentioned how his team needs to remain confident shooting the ball going forward.

“Shoot it! Keep shooting it. That is my message,” Gates said. “I’ve seen these same shots go in consistently.”

The Columbia Tigers will complete a three-game home stand against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (1-1) on Monday at 7:00 p.m. CST on the SEC Network+ before heading to the Twin Cities for a battle with Minnesota on Thursday.