Saturday may have marked the return of guard Mark Smith but subpar 3-point shooting and balanced Mississippi state scoring would spell doom to Mizzou’s four-game home winning streak.
Guards Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith helped Mizzou keep the game at arm’s length in the second half, combining for 39 points. The true story of today’s game, however, comes from behind the 3-point arc where the Tigers shot a meager 20% for the contest.
Mizzou came into the game winners of four straight home conference games but that momentum would be thwarted by a hot-shooting and balanced Bulldog squad that is now 19-10 and 10-6 in the SEC. For head coach Cuonzo Martin, the season has been a case of one step forward and two steps back. Despite the loss, Mississippi State coach Ben Howland had glowing things to say about this young Tiger team.
“They (Missouri) are so young.” Howland said following the victory. “They’ll be in the NCAA Tournament next year.”
A disappointing season nears end
The loss drops Missouri to 14-15 (6-10 in the SEC) with two games left to play. The story of cold shooting and offensive ineptitude has certainly been a recurring theme throughout the 19/20 season. This team has continued to battle despite a 1-5 start to the conference slate and has slowly started to become the team that coach Martin thought he had prior to the start of the season.
A loss today doesn’t change much. There is still an outside chance of an NIT birth depending on what happens against Ole Miss and Alabama and in Nashville. You see the potential in guards Smith and Pinson and hope to have Mark Smith back at full strength next year.
I thought shot selection got us in the end.” Cuonzo Martin stated. “We can’t have the level of success with X and Dru playing 35 minutes, that’s exhausting.”