There’s something about the Missouri men’s basketball team that seems to bring out the best in its opponents.
That was definitely the case Saturday, as Texas A&M played an impeccable second half to defeat the Tigers 91-63.
“That’s probably the best we’ve played in the Big 12 (Conference) since I’ve been here,” Aggie junior Antoine Wright said. “It was just one of those nights where everybody was making shots. Nobody thought we would be able to do this. Some of us, even on the team, had doubts about how the season was going to go.”
Missouri, which had led by a point at halftime, was helpless to stop Texas A&M’s electric offense in the second half. The Aggies shot 9-of-12 on 3-pointers on their way to scoring 57 points in the half.
“It was just fun to watch,” Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said. “You don’t get a chance to be a part of a half like that too often. It was awfully fun to be on our sideline tonight during the second half.”
Wright led all scorers with 20 points, including a fluke 3-pointer that he banked home as the shot clock expired midway through the second half.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” Missouri guard Jason Conley said. “This game is a little different than usual because these guys didn’t miss any threes. When Antione Wright hits a shot right in my face, off the glass from the corner, which is very hard, with the shot clock expiring, you know, what can you do? All we can do is keep playing, but that’s not an excuse.”
After losing its fourth consecutive game, Missouri is running out of excuses. The 91 points the Tigers allowed were the most Missouri has let an opponent score all season. It was more than Texas A&M had scored against opponents like Baylor, Chicago State, Prairie View A&M, and Trinity College.
Missouri coach Quin Snyder, who the MU athletic department announced Friday will definitely be retained next season despite the Tigers’ struggles, said his team has a long way to go to become competitive.
On Saturday, he faulted the Tiger defense. Missouri attempted a zone defense in the second half to contain Texas A&M center Joseph Jones, who finished with 17 points. Jones was mostly quiet in the second half, but the Aggie perimeter shooters made Missouri pay for the switch.
“Tonight was about us not guarding in the second half,” Snyder said. “And it was about Texas A&M playing lights out basketball.”
With the win against Missouri, Texas A&M (15-5, 4-5 Big 12) ensured having its best season since going 19-11 in 1993. While the Aggies are eyeing a potential NCAA tournament appearance, the Tigers (10-12, 2-7) are just trying to figure out what, if anything, they can do to win a basketball game.
“When it comes down to it, if we’re not putting the ball in the hole and they are putting the ball in the hole, we’re not getting any stops,” Conley said. “That’s the game right there.”