MANHATTAN, Kan. — Missouri guard J.T. Tiller’s expression halfway through the second half said it all.
After committing a careless foul, Tiller pounded his head with his fists with a look of disgust as Kansas State went on to score two points and extend its lead. The mistakes continued to pile up for the Missouri men’s basketball team in its 63-53 loss at No. 6 Kansas State on Saturday night. The loss was the Tigers’ sixth straight in Manhattan, Kan.
After entering the second half tied, the Tigers were undone by their turnovers. The second half seemed to get out of control early for Missouri. Guard Kim English drove on a fast break, only to turn the ball over. The result was a 3-point basket by Kansas State (24-4, 11-3) and a six-point lead that sent the crowd into a deafening frenzy.
One possession after another Missouri (21-8, 9-5) seemed to struggle with the physicality of the Wildcats. They were like schoolyard bullies to the weaker Tigers. Missouri spent the majority of the time unable to handle the pressure from the Wildcats. Missouri couldn’t get its offense going, trailing by eight through most of the second half. Any drive to the basket would often end up being blocked or turning the ball out of bounds, unable to draw fouls.
“I thought we attacked the basket. We just didn’t get to the free throw line. How about that? You write that how you want to,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said, clearly frustrated with the referees.
Kansas State’s forwards also took advantage of a smaller Tigers line-up. The Kansas State forwards often drew double teams in the post only to find another big man open for easy dunks.
Missouri, playing without starting forward Justin Safford because a torn ACL, couldn’t handle the pressure. At one point, after picking up his fourth foul, forward Laurence Bowers just threw his hands up in the air in frustration. The three Tigers forwards combined for just 10 points and Bowers was held scoreless.
“Bowers, he had a rough night, when you talk about a guy that’s been our third-leading scorer,” Anderson said.
Missouri’s first half wasn’t much better. The Tigers got off to a fast start with a barrage of speed and traps that continuously frustrated Kansas State. Missouri held the Wildcats to just 18 percent from the field in the first half, but was unable to take advantage.
Alhough Missouri spent the majority of the half with a lead, its offense stalled. With guards J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor on the bench with foul trouble, the Tigers seemed afraid to penetrate, often settling for 3-point jump shots. Missouri guard Miguel Paul helped provide a lift, scoring six points off the bench.
But it wasn’t enough. The Tigers allowed Kansas State to go on a 10-0 run to close out the half, tying the game.