It’s hard to determine which told the story better, the numbers or the looks on their faces.
One-by-one they filed out of Missouri’s locker room. Glen Dandridge was first. A half hour later, Thomas Gardner was last.
There were no smiles. They avoided eye contact. Talking to the media was the last thing they wanted to do and it was obvious each player was carrying a load bigger than the bags on their shoulders.
“Things like this are embarrassing,” Marshall Brown said. “It’s on TV, I mean, you guys report it. So it hurts when you have a game plan and you don’t execute it.”
Missouri lost to Iowa State 67-49 on Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum. The Tigers (14-15, 6-9 Big 12 Conference) turned the ball over 22 times. The turnovers led to 30 points. The Cyclones also scored 20 fast-break points.
Although part of Missouri’s struggles could be attributed to Iowa State’s intense pressure, no player made excuses. They knew where most of the blame rested.
What was more difficult to conclude was why and how this happened a week before the Big 12 Tournament.
After taking a deep breath, Linas Kleiza couldn’t provide much insight.
“That’s a tough question, I wish I could answer it right now,” he said. “It’s hard to tell right now.”
All Jimmy McKinney could tell was the Tigers played badly.
“There’s noting to say about it, you know,” McKinney said. “We turned the ball over and that’s what cost us the game.”
It’s the second straight game where turnovers have plagued Missouri. On Saturday against Texas, the Tigers committed 19 turnovers.
To make matters worse, Missouri continued to struggle with its shooting. The Tigers followed Saturday’s 33-percent effort with a 39-percent mark Wednesday.
Nowhere are the difficulties more apparent than from behind the arc. Missouri was 0-for-8 in the first half against Iowa State and 0-for-5 in the second half until Gardner connected on the team’s first 3-pointer with 10 minutes left.
“Our margin for error isn’t great enough to have one area of the game where we’re that bad in and expect to win,” Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. “If you came back and made a bunch of shots you could maybe overcome that, but we’re not doing that either, so we’ve got to play mistake-free basketball game-to-game.”
A little more than a week ago the Tigers were on a four game winning streak and making a push for the postseason.
Now Missouri needs to win against No. 7 Kansas on Sunday in Mizzou Arena plus at least one win in the Big 12 Tournament to finish .500 and have a shot at playing in the National Invitation Tournament.
“The one thing I told the guys is we’ve been a fairly resilient team and this is no time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Snyder said. “We’ve done things these last couple games to beat ourselves, and Iowa State did some really good things too, but you know it’s got to stop as far as giving the other team the ball.”