For Quin Snyder, Melvin and Marcus Watkins, it was a homecoming.
For Missouri, it was a chance for revenge.
Both were spoiled when the Tigers fell 82-73 at Davidson on Wednesday night.
After playing arguably its best half of basketball this season at Arkansas on Friday, Missouri followed it up with easily its worst half to date Wednesday.
Missouri made one of its first 13 field goal attempts and scored just four points in the first 9:30 before allowing the Wildcats a 40-24 halftime advantage. Despite closing to within seven in the second half, Missouri fell a game under .500 at 2-3 with its second consecutive road loss.
“We just came out a little flat and struggled to match their intensity early,” junior guard Thomas Gardner said.
On Monday, Gardner said Missouri turned a corner in recognizing the need to play together as they had at Arkansas.
Snyder had spoken of how the Tigers were determined to match Davidson’s intensity, remembering a home-loss last year.
Neither was apparent from the outset of the Davidson game.
Missouri forfeited any chance of avenging last season’s 84-81 defeat at Mizzou Arena, as they suffered from abysmal shooting early on by going 9-28 in the first half. On three consecutive possessions, Jimmy McKinney, Marshall Brown and Leo Lyons forced one-on-one moves that resulted in two missed field goals and an offensive foul on Brown.
Missouri held Davidson, who is known as a shooting team, in check from deep, but seemed overmatched in the post on the defensive end.
“We just didn’t do a good job with interior defense,” Snyder said in an interview on radio station KFRU after the game. “They caught it too deep, and those guys had really big nights.”
The biggest night came from forward Ian Johnson for Davidson. After scoring 17 in the first half, Johnson finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Three-pointers from Gardner were the only consistent offense for Missouri until late. Gardner put up a career-high 30 points on 8-of-13 shooting from long range. McKinney was the only other Tiger in double figures, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the final 5:45.
“After I made one, coach ran a few plays and the guys got me open on some screens” Gardner said. “We knew somebody had to step up to get back in it, and I just wanted to lead by example.”
North Carolina is familiar territory for Snyder. He played for Duke in Durham, N.C., and was a Blue Devils assistant when he was plucked to coach MU.
Davidson is just 20 miles from Charlotte, N.C., where Melvin Watkins played and coached at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Watkins’ son Marcus, Missouri’s junior guard, was born in Charlotte.