COLUMBIA — Missouri’s game against Texas A&M on Saturday was decided in the first five minutes and three seconds of the second half. The Aggies went on a 15-0 run during that time and turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 10-point lead.
The closest the Tigers came to the Aggies after that was eight points.
“We had good energy coming into the locker room because we scored a basket right before the time expired,” guard Keon Lawrence said. “But when we came out (after the half), I didn’t see the energy from none of us. Me either, I was just out there like I was dazed or something. I didn’t know what it was. We got to do a better job at that.”
That lack of energy cost the Tigers a chance to upset No. 18 Texas A&M. The run to start the second half sparked the Aggies to a 77-69 victory.
“I thought they took the fight to us, and I thought we responded, but we responded probably too late,” MU coach Mike Anderson said. “When they made that run, as opposed to saying ‘Hey, let’s settle down,’ we got a little rattled I thought.”
Other factors played into Texas A&M’s victory. For one, the Aggies used their size advantage — Bryan Davis, Joseph Jones and DeAndre Jordan are all 6-foot-9 or taller and weigh over 240 pounds — to out rebounded the Tigers 42 to 25.
“Usually we rebound with quickness and try to rebound with a bunch of people in the paint,” forward Leo Lyons said. “Today, we just didn’t do that and it showed.”
Anderson said he thought the Tigers did a much better job of rebounding against Kansas State, a team that also has some good rebounders— namely Michael Beasley, the nation’s leader in the category.
“I just think as forwards we did a poor job of keeping them off the glass,” forward Justin Safford said. “They’re good players but we just didn’t do a good job of keeping them off the glass.”
When the Tigers tried to fight their way back into the game, they were forced to foul the Aggies. Texas A&M was able to seal the victory at the free-throw line. Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon attributed the Aggies free throw shooting to hard work in practice.
“We shoot 2,500 to 3,000 free throws a week,” Turgeon said. “It’s a big part of what we do. This is the worst foul-shooting team I’ve ever had but we’re starting to make them now because we work at it. That’s a big part of it.”
In the loss, Lyons scored a career-high 24 points in only 16 minutes of action. Nineteen of his points came in the second half.
“It’s just a sense of urgency, that’s all,” Lyons said of his play. “They went on a good run, so I just got a little fire under me and tried to play hard.”
Anderson said he is trying to get Lyons to play the way he did in the second half in all of Missouri’s games.
“He just saw some things that he could exploit,” Anderson said of Lyons. “I thought he could have done that in the first half. I think that’s the sense of urgency that ‘Hey, I can be as good as I want to be.’ It’s got to come within him.
“We’re trying to put him in a position where he can showcase all of his God-given abilities. Sometimes potential can get you in trouble. I think consistency is key. Today, he left it on the floor, and hopefully that is something he will continue to do for our basketball team.”