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Mizzou outlasted by Vanderbilt, now solely resides in the cellar of the SEC

The Commodores survived an early surge from Mizzou and hit some clutch shots in the closing minutes.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Late-game struggles yet again plagued Missouri basketball as the Tigers fell to Vanderbilt 68-61 at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday.

Noah Carter exploded for 20 points and Tamar Bates added on 17, but the Commodores hit clutch shots when necessary and won the battle on the boards by 11. Four Vanderbilt players scored in double-figures, led by 17 points from leading scorer Ezra Manjon and 14 from Tyrin Lawrence.

The beginning of this game was a night-and-day difference to how Wednesday’s disappointing defeat kicked off. In that game, Arkansas held a 20-10 lead halfway through the first half and never looked back.

Keen on starting out on a better foot this time around, the Tigers jumped out to a 20-9 lead against Vanderbilt. It all started with Carter, who went on a personal 9-0 run in the first two minutes of the game. After having not scored in double-figures since Jan. 16, Carter appeared to regain some form of an offensive rhythm against the Commodores.

Vanderbilt did rally, however, as Mizzou went cold from the floor (0-for-7 over a four minute span) and Sean East II left the game briefly after knocking knees with a Commodore. Lawrence poured in eight first half points while Isaiah West knocked down a trio of triples to spark a normally lacking Vandy 3-point attack.

The Commodores finally stole the lead back at the 4:53 mark of the opening frame, claiming a 25-24 advantage thanks to a dominant scoring run from Wallace. But, Carter fired back with some haymakers of his own and scored the final five points for Mizzou to keep his squad within striking distance. A 32-29 advantage did feel like a win for Vanderbilt after it trailed by as much as 11 in the first half.

The two sides traded buckets for much of the second half after the ‘Dores jumped out to a 38-29 lead to open the frame. Tamar Bates knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Vandy lead to 44-40 with 11:50 remaining in the game, and that seemed to jumpstart the Indiana transfer, who had only scored four points up to that point.

He scored 10 more points down the stretch to keep Mizzou in the game, but the Commodores held strong in the end. Nick Honor attempted to rally the Tigers with five-straight points to cut the Vanderbilt lead to 57-56 with just under two minutes remaining, but two clutch buckets from Evan Taylor and Tyrin Lawrence iced the game for the home side.

Mizzou will next head back to Columbia for a two-game home stand. The first opponent will be Texas A&M (12-8, 3-4) on Tuesday, a rematch of the two teams’ rock fight on Jan. 23. Then, Mississippi State (14-7, 3-5) will come to COMO on Saturday.