Thomas Gardner had more than a little trouble getting his shots to fall but he still recorded a double-double to lift the Tigers on Monday against Brown University
Gardner wasn’t the only Missouri player having trouble in the 68-60 victory against the Bears. The Bear’s zone defense disrupted the Tigers’ offense causing them to shoot 23-of-66 from the field including 7-of-26 3-point attempts. Missouri coach Quin Snyder said he had no problem with so many deeps shots because they were open looks. He also said he knew the zone kept the Tigers from pounding the ball down low.
“The zone is going to make you shoot shots,” Snyder said. “That’s the whole reason people play zone.”
Gardner, who ended up 3-for-10 from behind the arc, said he had no second thoughts about shooting so much.
“My team has confidence in me, I have confidence in myself,” Gardner said. “If I’m open I’m going to take the shot, regardless. That’s one rule when you’re a shooter. You’ve got to forget about the shot before.”
Brown seemed to know this rule well and kept on shooting from behind the arc. The difference was that the Bears’ shots were going in. Brown hit 11 of 21 3-pointers including 5-of-8 in the first half. The Tigers appeared to be in trouble in the first period especially because their shots weren’t falling.
The Tigers came out flat in the first half shooting 3 of 13 from behind the arc and a little more than 39 percent from the field. Gardner suffered the worst 3-point woes missing all five of his attempts. Gardner said Browns’ zone was the reason the Tigers faltered.
“The first half was tough for all of us,” Gardner said. “The zone kind of caught us off balance and our shots just weren’t falling.”
The end of the first period provided some hope for the Tigers, though.
They ended it on a high note with a steal by sophomore Spencer Laurie. Laurie stole the ball and proceeded on a fast break and then passing it behind his back to a trailing Glen Dandridge. Dandridge finished the run with a big dunk that sent Paige Sports Arena into a frenzy.
Sophomore power forward Linas Kleiza seemed to be the only bright spot on the court for Missouri in the first half. He started the game strong scoring eight with five rebounds. To add an exclamation point to his play, He found himself holding the ball directly under the basket with 9:40 left. He then jumped straight up to do a one-handed reverse slam.
At half time Snyder must have made some adjustments because Missouri’s shots started falling and its defense stepped up. The Tigers kept Brown on the perimeter and allowed only two 2-point field goals.
Kleiza said stopping Brown’s big men made him feel good but he knew there was still work for the team to do.
Juinor guard Jimmy McKinney agreed with Kleiza saying there was definitely more the Tigers could do.
“I think we could have played better defense than we played tonight,” McKinney said. “We’ve just got to stay focused on the defensive end. We can’t give up open looks.”
In the next round of the Guardians Classic against Houston, which rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Sam Houston State 72-69 earlier Monday, the Tigers might not have to worry about the zone as much. Houston tends to play a more up-tempo game that matches well with the Tigers’ play. Snyder said it doesn’t matter who they are playing there’s just one thing that is important.
“I want to win,” Snyder said.