Heartbreak city. Everything Missouri (8-8, 0-2 SEC) had worked for 40-plus minutes was all for nothing as South Carolina (13-2, 1-1) stunned the Tigers with under 13 seconds to play in overtime.
Noah Carter knocked down a 3-pointer, tying the game up at 69 with over a minute to play, electrifying the 11,000-plus strong at Mizzou Arena that braved the harsh elements to attend the contest. But, with time ticking down, Gamecocks guard Jacobi Wright dribbled inside the paint, and with Connor Vanover’s hands in his face, he splashed a fadeaway jumper, putting the visitors from the other Columbia up two.
Carter, who finished with a team-high 23 points, his second straight 20-point game, missed on the ensuing end. Tamar Bates grabbed the offensive board, but the buzzer sounded as he was trying to get the shot off, which doomed any chance of double-overtime.
“We had the play. I got the ball up top, and man, I forced the shot. I would say that,” Carter said. “It felt good. It did feel good, but they got the stop, and we didn’t get it done.”
Missouri has now dropped five straight to Power Six schools, the last victory coming at Pittsburgh on Nov. 28. Meanwhile, South Carolina redeemed itself following a 27-point loss at Alabama.
Poor shooting in all areas of the game affected the Tigers. Mizzou did get 14 points from its bench after tallying just 13 in the previous two games combined. Bates and Sean East II each reached double-figures again, but the Tigers shot a miserable 22.7% from 3-point land and 66.7% from the free-throw line on 12-of-18 shooting.
Free throws came to bite the Tigers in overtime. The team went 2-of-4 from the stripe as both East and Carter missed the front end of an and-1 each in what would be a two-point loss. Missouri came into its contest with the Gamecocks attempting just 16.1 free throws per game, which ranks last in the SEC. The Tigers equaled South Carolina’s output in attempts, but the Gamecocks six more than MU.
“(We) got to the free throw line,” Dennis Gates said. “We weren’t able to execute on the front end of one-on-one’s and we let one get away.”
Letting one get away is a perfect way to sum it up for the Tigers. After starting 0-of-3 from the field and 1-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half, Missouri went back-and-forth with the Gamecocks in the second half.
Bates and Jesus Carralero-Martin dug the Tigers out of an early 7-0 hole. Carralero-Martin, who played a season-high 19 minutes in Kentucky, got the first nod off the bench by Gates and proceeded to have his best game yet as a Tiger.
“He has a high basketball IQ. He’s a great passer. He’s a connecter. He has strength, meaning he’s able to battle, he’s able to switch and those intangibles you can’t get enough of,” Gates said.
Before fouling out with under three minutes in overtime, Carralero-Martin finished with six points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. He provided a bit of a spark that had been missing since Caleb Grill went down before the Kansas game while also recording the only positive plus-minus for the team (he was +3).
Following a Meechie Johnson 3-pointer late in the first half, Bates, who finished with 12 points, knocked down a fadeaway jumper giving the Tigers the lead at 33-32 heading into the locker room.
It was a lead Mizzou would hold onto for much of the second half. South Carolina pulled within a single-point multiple times behind the play of B.J. Mack, who finished with a team-high 21 points, as well as Ta’lon Cooper and Myles Stute, who added 11 and 10 points each.
A pair of East free throws put the Tigers back up three with 45 seconds to play in regulation, but on the following trip down, Cooper splashed a 3-ball forcing overtime in the Battle of Columbia.
“We just didn’t close out the game,” Gates said. “We had the lead for 24-25 minutes of that.”
In the overtime period, the Gamecocks used the momentum off of Cooper’s 3-point shot to extend the game as the Tigers never regained the lead over the final five minutes of play.
Mizzou returns to the court on Tuesday as it travels to Tuscaloosa to take on the reigning SEC champs, Alabama. The game will be on the SEC Network at 6 PM CT.