The contest fit the mold of Mizzou’s typical Southeastern Conference game with the Tigers playing well enough defensively to stay competitive, but unable to overcome a poor shooting performance.
“We’ll go down and score and then we can’t get a stop,” sophomore guard K.J. Walton said. “We’ve gotta figure something out. That’s been the story of the season.”
Missouri fell to 5-15 overall and 0-8 in SEC play.
The Tigers opened the game with a 7-0 run but cooled down quickly after that, scoring just 15 points the remainder of the half. Jordan Geist, Russell Woods and Walton were the only three Missouri players to score in the first period.
The Tigers stayed strong on defense though, making for an ugly contest. South Carolina’s two leading scorers, Sindarius Thornwell (19.6 ppg) and P.J. Dozier (13.9 ppg), combined to shoot seven for 28 from the field and two for 11 from beyond the arc.
“Obviously, not a great offensive performance by us, but Missouri had a lot to do with it,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “Watching them on film, it’s easy to see they fight you, they guard you.”
Missouri failed to translate its success on defense to offensive efficiency. The Tigers shot a season-low one for 17 (5.9 percent) from 3. The dismal 3-point percentage contributed to another sub-40 percent shooting night from Missouri.
“Obviously, [the Gamecocks] are the best three-point defensive team in the league,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “They certainly padded that lead after tonight. I thought we settled. We had a really hard time getting the ball inside for awhile.”
The Tigers eventually attacked the rim and finished with 36 points in the paint compared to USC’s 12. The Gamecocks scored 41 of their 63 points from either beyond the 3-point line or at the charity stripe.
Thornwell led South Carolina with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Woods led the Tigers with a career-high 18 points and eight rebounds. The senior forward has posted double-digit point totals in three of his last four games. Walton finished with 12 points on three-for-eight shooting. No other Tigers finished in double figures.
Missouri will hit the road to take on Florida (16-5, 6-2) on Thursday night in Gainesville, Fla.
You can follow Charlie Clarke on Twitter at @CWClarke18.
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