I mean, it kinda had to end this way... right? A normal season-ending loss just wouldn't do. Our Aggies played their tails off but ultimately fell short against a talented Mizzou squad. Let's take a look.
Fabyon Harris was back from his recent medical scare, but Shawn Smith was nowhere to be found (a topic for a different day).
Jordan Green and Antwan Space retained their respective spots in the starting lineup
The opening eight minutes were the Alex Caruso and Jamal Jones (44 minutes; 20 points / 7-16 FG) show, as they hit two threes each and scored the Ags first 16 points. A nice Fabyon Harris take gave A&M an 18-17 lead heading into the under-twelve break... and we proceeded to score eight points in the remaining twelve minutes. Because A&M basketball.
Granted, that drought was heavily aided by some first half foul trouble. But still, the team became a bit too reliant on outside shooting during this stretch and the shots just stopped falling. Mizzou used the drought to build an eight point halftime lead, but things honestly could have been worse.
Halftime score: Texas A&M 26, Mizzou 34
"OK, guys. We somehow survived that half despite ridiculous foul trouble for our big guys. It's a miracle that we have a chance to win this game. Let's play defense with a bit of discretion, OK?"
Here's how that played out
19:16 Foul on Kourtney Roberson (his third)
18:07 Foul on Kourtney Roberson (his fourth... eff)
17:05 Foul on Antwan Space (his third)
Despite the foul trouble, a handful of guys chipped in to keep the deficit manageable, and we were only down seven heading into the under-twelve break. Every time Mizzou threatened to pull away, Jones or Caruso seemed to have an answer. A layup by Ryan Rosberg put the Tigers up eight with just under 7:00 remaining, but Jones answered with an immediate three to cut the deficit to five. A couple of Mizzou free throws and A&M buckets by Fabyon, Green, and Space (30 minutes; 12 points / 3 rebounds) left us with a 62-59 Mizzou lead at the under-four break.
(Quick note: Jones was sick as a dog and played his guts out. 44 minutes... what an effort)
The Stretch (Texas A&M trails 59-62; 3:54 remaining)
At this point, the Aggies decided to hit some free throws. Caruso and Fabyon went 4-4 from the line, and Space soon finished a nice feed from Caruso. Who of course immediately followed that up with a three (kid played out of his mind).
That passage put the Ags up four, but they couldn't close it out. Unconvincing offensive possessions, poor defensive rebounding, and clutch Missouri free throw shooting had us headed to overtime.
Boy, did we pull a rabbit out of our hats here. Mizzou jumped to a quick four point lead and pressed the advantage through most of the period (leading 76-71 with under a minute remaining). A clutch Caruso offensive rebound + two free throws closed the gap to three, and a Tiger hit one of two at the other end to push the lead to four.
After a Caruso miss on the ensuing possession, the Aggies get another huge offensive rebound (this time courtesy of Roberson) and he hits both free throws as well. Knocking the defecit to two points with :11 remaining.
Mizzou attempts to inbound the ball... and it's stolen by Blake McDonald! Who feeds Caruso for a layup with eight seconds remaining! Great play by a Senior who wasn't quite ready to call it a season yet.
The Tigers don't get a clean shot in the final eight seconds, and we're headed to double overtime.
Everything finally caught up to us. The foul trouble, the fatigue, the playing short-handed for the last two weeks... everything. The Tigers jumped out to an 11-2 run and put the game to bed. Fabyon Harris (34 minutes; 10 points / 3 steals / 3 assists) led a mini-rally late to push the deficit back down to six, but the damage was done.
Final score: Texas A&M 83, Missouri 91
Overall Impression / Looking Forward
We have some end-of-season stuff coming soon, so I'll confine my thoughts to this game specifically. It was a gutsy effort. Caruso played all 50 minutes, Jones played 44 while sick, and Fabyon played 34 a week after laying on a hospital bed. It was a great, great effort and the team should be proud that they went down fighting.
If nothing else, this season has been interesting. And I hope y'all have enjoyed the recaps... even the ones that lay out our demise in heartbreaking detail. Now, let's focus on Gary Blair's talented squad and BTHO TBD.