The Tigers led for a total of ten seconds in this game.
And that was plenty of time.
From the jaws of death, Missouri left Williams Arena (aka The Barn) with a 70-68 victory on Thursday. Nick Honor scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half, Noah Carter added on 13 and a team-high six rebounds, and Mizzou rallied from down 20 points with 11:25 remaining in the game to win this one.
It all started with Honor. The veteran point guard only took three shots in the first half, but he made his head coach proud by going 5-9 from the floor and 3-5 from behind the arc in the second half. Dennis Gates has been imploring Honor to hunt for his own shot on the floor, and his individual 10-point run in the middle of the second half sparked the Tigers’ comeback.
Honor cut the Gopher lead to 61-49 with 9:02 left in the game, and the two sides proceeded to trade buckets until Mizzou’s depth began to flex its muscle. Trent Pierce scored five points down the stretch, Curt Lewis and Anthony Robinson III bookended a 9-0 run and Tamar Bates knocked down four free throws to tie things up with just under two minutes remaining.
Dawson Garcia, who led Minnesota with 16 points, made a free throw to push Minnesota ahead 68-67 with 1:25 on the clock.
But, Sean East II made a swift move at the top of key and glided past his defender with under ten seconds remaining. He was bumped, yet took the contact and faded for a well-placed jump shot. He hit the ensuing free throw, and the Tigers went home victorious.
The beginning of the game could not have been more different.
Red-hot would be an understatement when describing how Minnesota started on offense in this one. The Gophers began this game shooting 7-for-8 from the floor and 5-for-5 from behind the arc, and they were doing so at the breakneck pace that Mizzou usually baffles other teams with.
The Tigers were shell-shocked after Minnesota torched the nets early on, and with The Barn at its backs, the home team looked well in control.
Mizzou weathered the early storm and managed to respond to a mid-half burst from the Gophers that pushed their advantage to 30-20. Carter scoring at all three levels and East’s ability to slash into the paint allowed the Tigers to claw their way back into this one. On top of that, after Minnesota was shooting the ball at a phenomenal clip early in this game, it suffered a near-six minute scoring drought that allowed Carter and Co. to cut the lead to 30-27.
The Tigers will next take on Jackson State (0-5) back within the friendly confines of Mizzou Arena. The meeting with the JSU Tigers will begin a three-game home stand for Dennis Gates and Co., beginning Sunday.