This game had a little bit of everything.
A decent first half turned into a comfortable second half, which turned into an almost surefire victory, which turned into... chaos.
We survived, but holy cow did we do our best to mismanage this sucker down the stretch. As always, these are the lessons you’d rather learn in a win.
We decided to mix things up a bit and start a basketball game playing well, cranking up a 16-8 lead as we approached the midway point of the half. But old habits die hard, and they die harder when Josh Nebo is in foul trouble.
Two quick fouls for our stellar big man put us on our heels, and the Tigers reeled off a 12-0 run to restore momentum. We hung around through the latter part of the half, but a late Mizzou three pushed their lead to five at the buzzer. And it almost felt unfair.
Halftime Score: Missouri 32, Texas A&M 27
We have a coach who consistently makes halftime adjustments! We were far more deliberate during our second half possessions, working the ball inside to Nebo on almost every trip down the floor and dialing down the three point attempts.
An excellent defensive stretch keyed an early 10-0 run, and we maintained that one/two possession advantage for the majority of the half. Missouri was extraordinarily patient on offense, but we kept flying around on the perimeter and forcing them to settle for threes. We closed out on as many as we could, and they (mostly) missed the rest... leading to a 62—53 Texas A&M advantage with 1:40 remaining.
And then all hell broke loose.
The Hell That Broke Loose
You’re going to see this list and think “wow, that sounds exciting!” On the surface, you aren’t wrong. But in reality, these things took twenty one minutes to actually resolve. We had fouls, timeouts, reviews, fouls about reviews, and timeouts about fouls. It was every possible complaint about college basketball gameflow, packaged conveniently into one 21 minute nightmare. And I’m saying this as a fan of the team that won.
But enough about that. Let’s hit the facts.
- Missouri hits a three to cut the lead to 62-56 (1:28 remaining)
- Missouri fouls, as they should. Gordon hits one to increase the lead to 63-56.
- We foul, as we shouldn’t. Missouri, who was literally in the process of setting the all-time D1 record for consecutive made free throws, knocks both down. 63-58. (1:10 remaining)
- We turn the ball over. My sports disaster radar kicks in.
- Missouri immediately makes a three to cut the lead to 63-61. My sports disaster radar intensifies. (0:57 remaining)
- We turn the ball over again. I light my sports disaster radar on fire.
- Missouri misses the layup in transition, but Josh Nebo commits his fifth foul on the rebound. We are now sending the free throw gods to the line to tie the game, and our best player is on the bench.
- Missouri makes the first.... and misses the second that would have tied the game. Their first missed free throw in FIFTY FOUR ATTEMPTS. (0:28)
- The Tigers immediately foul Flagg. Who, bless his heart, puts up two of the worst free throws I’ve ever seen. Missouri now has the ball down one, and my sports disaster radar somehow continues to function while engulfed in flames. (0:19)
- Quenton Jackson, the defensive hero of the evening, draws a charge on the ensuing possession. (0:10)
- We throw a shaaaady inbounds pass along the sideline and are bailed out by a dubious foul call. Jackson calmly drains both free throws to push the lead to 65-62 (0:09).
- Missouri misses a three and gets fouled on the rebound with :02 remaining. They make the first, which means their best chance to win the game is to miss this free throw on purpose.
- They make the free throw, because they are free throw robots that are not sentient.
- The Tigers foul Miller before we inbound the ball which I’m pretty sure (but not positive) is supposed to be a technical foul. Miller makes one of two, and it’s now 66-64 with :02 still remaining.
- And then... this
Final Score: Texas A&M Basketball 66, Missouri 64
The improvement is real, and it is spectacular.
BTHO Oklahoma State