The University of Missouri basketball program announced that junior guard Wes Clark had been dismissed from the team because of academic issues a little more than an hour before hosting South Carolina on Tuesday.
Then the Tigers responded to their most recent setback with one of their biggest victories of the season, 72-69 over the visiting Gamecocks in a Southeastern Conference game at Mizzou Arena.
Senior forward Ryan Rosburg led the way again with a team-high 18 points, which included making eight of 17 free throw attempts, as the Tigers (10-16, 3-10 SEC) had five players in double figures.
With Clark, the team’s second-leading scorer, no longer a member of the Tigers, two young guards came off the bench and made a difference. Sophomore Tramaine Isabell had 10 points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals in 18 minutes. Freshman K.J. Walton had 10 points, three rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes.
Walton had a key layup off a nifty assist from Phillips, with 38 seconds remaining, that gave Missouri a 70-67 advantage.
The Tigers added free throws from Rosburg and Phillips from that point to secure the victory.
It was the second straight win for Missouri after the Tigers had lost nine in a row. And this one came against a South Carolina (21-9, 8-5 SEC) squad that ranks as one of the better units in the league.
Mizzou got off to another strong start and led by as many as 15 points midway through the first half. The Tigers led by eight at halftime, 33-25, but saw their lead evaporate in the final minutes.
The score was tied, 67-all, with just 1:46 remaining, but Missouri was able to score the final five points to pull out the victory and improve to 10-5 at Mizzou Arena this season.