If Missouri men’s basketball’s first-half performance against SMU on Sunday was bad, its first half against Florida State on Monday in Jacksonville, Florida, was a disaster. The Tigers had 13 turnovers before the buzzer sounded for the break. The Seminoles shot 64.3% while Missouri shot 40.9% by the end of the half.
It was arguably Florida State’s best half of the season. For Missouri, it was potentially the worst.
The second half didn’t get much better for the Tigers en route to a 81-58 loss, as the Seminoles claimed the inaugural Jacksonville Classic Duval Bracket title. Florida State never trailed, and Missouri never got out of second gear.
It was a thorough beating.
“They were the aggressor,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. “They played with athleticism, got to the rim, made plays — good one-on-one players. We felt like our one-on-one defense had to be at a premium.”
The Tigers, who are known for being a better defensive team, never looked to be in the game and had no answer for the potent Florida State offense. A day after an overtime win against SMU, maybe it was a case of tired legs for Missouri, but the Seminoles weren’t fazed.
The bigger, taller, faster, stronger, longer, deeper and simply better Florida State team never looked in danger of losing its lead. The Tigers shot 27.3% from the 3-point line; Florida State shot 41.7%. Missouri had just 12 bench points; the Seminoles had 39.
“They force you to make one-on-one plays, so if you don’t have four or five guys consistently making one-on-one plays, it can be a long night for you,” Martin said. “I thought we passed up some 3-point shots.”
Normally reliable sixth man Ronnie DeGray III couldn’t get anything going, finishing with two points — both from the charity stripe. Jarron Coleman was ineffective with just two points. Yaya Keita and Anton Brookshire combined for two points off of Keita’s lone field goal.
Kaleb Brown made his collegiate debut, and Sean Durugordon saw some rare minutes at the end of the game for the Tigers. Durugordon scored six points in five minutes.
The starters didn’t have much of an impact, either.
Kobe Brown, who got into foul trouble early and had to sit out for a large portion of the first half, finished with 13 points. Javon Pickett, the lone senior who coach Cuonzo Martin said was shooting well before the season started, finished 2-of-12 from the field with eight points. Amari Davis finished with a team-high 14 points.
“We played a better team, a bigger team (than previous games),” Davis said. ... “They made some early shots, and they made shots throughout the game. ... You can’t dig that hole at the beginning of the game.”
Missouri needs to find answers ... and find them fast. The lighter part of the nonconference schedule is just about in the rearview mirror, with only games against NAIA outfit Paul Quinn College and Eastern Illinois being ones where the Tigers can be called clear favorites. Missouri still faces Wichita State, Liberty, No. 4 Kansas and No. 14 Illinois — all of which were in last season’s NCAA Tournament — before entering into the gantlet of SEC play.
The Tigers play Wichita State next.
“Wichita State’s a talented team,” Martin said. ... “I’ve seen them from afar, haven’t really started watching film on them. We’ll do that tomorrow.”