Finally, some good news.
After a dreadful opening half it certainly looked like more of the same was upon us, but we flipped the script in the second half and eventually cruised home with one of our best passages of basketball all season.
Terrible Early. Just Terrible.
In our preview, we noted that Mizzou ranked last in the SEC in just about every turnover-related metric in existence. Which, of course, meant that we gifted them 10 first half turnovers en route to our worst opening half (21 points) of the entire season.
Before the game we announced that Nebo and Walker wouldn’t play due to injury, which thrust 27 first half minutes onto the trio of Chris Collins, John Brown, and Mark French. That’s obviously not our optimal lineup, but it didn’t excuse a woeful first half, and at this point dropping to 1-10 in SEC play seemed like a certainty.
Halftime Score: Missouri 30, Texas A&M 21
Putting It All Together
Quite simply, a different team emerged from the locker room at halftime. We truly played well in all phases for an entire half, which we’ve done maybe five (or fewer) times all season. The defensive intensity showed up, the ball movement was crisp (and to the correct team!), and we (gasp!) started sticking some shots. I swear, this game gets easier and easier if you hit some shots.
Missouri did bump their lead from nine to twelve, but we slowly worked our way back into the game during the opening two-thirds of the second half. Then, with six minutes remaining, we delivered an 11-0 hammer blow that opened up a ten point lead we never relinquished.
When Missouri fouled late to extend the game, we were 6-6 from the line. That’s how you close a game, friends.
Final Score: Texas A&M 68, Missouri 59
- Our FG% inside the arc (18-31; 58%) was our best effort in conference play to date. Mitchell and Starks got to the rim at will, and Mekowulu did a nice job finishing inside.
- Speaking of Starks, this was about as Jekyll-and-Hyde of a performance as you’ll see. He was Bad Starks in the first half, and Good Starks in the second. You rarely see both players on the same day, but they both made the trip to Columbia. Despite his early troubles, he was the catalyst for the run that sealed the game.
- Mitchell had 20 points today on 8-14 shooting, which gives him at least 18 in seven out of his last 10 games. Without a doubt, he has been our offensive MVP in conference play.
- With Nebo out we needed a big effort from Mekowulu, and he stepped up with his best game of 2019. It’s tough work being the only big man on the floor, but he killed it to the tune of 15 points and 10 boards in 31 heavy minutes. Nicely done.
That second half was long overdue. Watching this team hasn’t exactly been a joyous experience this season, but those who stuck it out were treated to a thoroughly enjoyable 20 minutes of second half basketball.
For me, I think that’s the trick in February. To compartmentalize the long term frustrations and occasional short-term successes, and to be ok with both feelings living in your brain at the same time.
I’m not happy this season, but I was happy between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.
For now, that’s enough.