With 15:11 in the second half, Cullen VanLeer knocked down a three to give Missouri a 15-point lead. However, throughout the second half, the Omaha Mavericks battled to keep the game close, cutting the Mizzou lead to as low as five.
The Missouri Tigers eventually reigned victorious, finishing off the Mavericks 85-78 at Mizzou Arena last night. But after Tiger runs in both the first and second halves, the Mavs hung side-by-side Mizzou.
Where have we seen this script before?
Try Missouri’s last two games, where the Tigers have seen multiple early leads slip. Victories of 10 against Arkansas State and eight against Northern Illinois have exposed a weakness in Missouri’s game; A failure to deliver the knockout punch.
Kevin Puryear was asked if Mizzou’s failure to deliver the punch frustrated the team.
“I wouldn’t say frustrated but it will be much sweeter when we do.”
Coach Kim Anderson looked on the bright side of the issue.
“We have to do a better job at trying to deliver the knockout punch,” said Anderson. “But we’ve been getting great experience in late-game situations. I don’t know if a this team wins that game a year ago.”
Mizzou grabbed the lead early in the first half with 10-0 run. By halftime, the Mavericks cut the deficit to seven, and both teams played even ball (48-48) in the second half.
“It was a game where they made a run, we fought back, they made a run, we fought back.” – Anderson
Kevin Puryear led the Tigers with 18 points, marking his seventh double-digit output in eight games played. He also led the team with eight boards. Four Tigers posted double-digit totals (Phillips – 14, Gant – 11, Walton – 10). Mizzou shot 48% on the game and Omaha shot 41%. The Mavericks were led by senior Jake White, who notched a double double of 18 points and 10 boards.
With the victory, Mizzou improves to 5-3 on the season while the Mavericks drop to 4-5. Missouri will travel to Tucson to battle the 12th ranked Arizona Wildcats Sunday at 7:00 PM. Anderson knows it will be a tough matchup.
“We can’t make the type of mistakes we made tonight if we want to beat Arizona in Arizona.”