Stefhon Hannah’s 3-point attempt, with Missouri down two points and 27 seconds left in overtime, wasn’t necessarily the shot coach Mike Anderson was looking for on the Tigers’ most important possession.
Regardless, it appeared to be going in as soon as he released it. When the shot reached the basket, part of the ball passed below the rim before popping back out. It rolled around the rim and then stalled on the front end for what seemed like seconds before Nebraska center Aleks Maric reached up and grabbed the missed shot, one of Maric’s career-high 19 rebounds in the game.
After Missouri fouled Maric, Hannah put his hands on the back of his head, seemingly in disbelief that the shot didn’t fall through the basket to give the Tigers the lead and possibly their fourth consecutive win.
“He thought it was going in,” center Kalen Grimes said. “I thought it was going in. We pretty much all did. When I saw it miss, it hurt. It was like a dagger. But it seems like that’s how it is a lot of the time when you’re playing on the road.”
Missouri (17-10, 6-8) did get a last possession with a chance to tie the game after Maric made only one of two free throws, but the Tigers missed three 3-point shots, eventually losing 82-77 in overtime at Nebraska. The loss ended a three-game winning streak for Missouri.
After the third consecutive win, the talk leading up to Missouri’s game with Nebraska (16-11, 5-8 Big 12) was the possibility of the Tigers making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. Saturday’s loss, however, drops Missouri to 6-8 in the conference, meaning the best it can finish is .500 in the Big 12.
The loss was also the Tigers’ second to Nebraska this season, which only has five conference wins. Missouri fell at home to the Huskers 66-61 on Feb. 3. In that game, Nebraska dominated the second half by allowing Maric to get off as many shots as possible.
In Saturday’s meeting, the Huskers used that same strategy.
In the first half alone, Maric (6-foot-11) scored 18 points. He finished with 31 points to go along with his 19 rebounds.
“Mr. Maric, he played his butt off,” Anderson said in a radio postgame interview. “He played well. When you get almost 20 rebounds, that says you’re working.”
Maric changed the game in the first half by getting nearly all of Missouri’s frontcourt players in foul trouble. Leo Lyons, Darryl Butterfield and Kalen Grimes all picked up two fouls in the first half while playing less than six minutes each.
“The fouls were hurting us,” Grimes said. “I sat on the bench the whole first half pretty much. Leo (Lyons) got in trouble and had to sit down next to me. And they had 36 free throws, and that was big for them. They got in the double bonus early.”
Maric’s superior size made him a tough matchup for an undersized Missouri team. Maric rebounded many of his missed shots, leading to layups.