Missouri v LSU

Missouri falls on the road to LSU in Laurence Bowers’ return

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Frank Haith and Missouri got good news early Wednesday afternoon, when Laurence Bowers, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, was ready return to action after missing the previous five games with a MCL sprain. He was suppose to help Mizzou get back on the right track, after Mizzou gone 3-2 without the 6-foot-7 forward on the floor.

Even with Bowers’ 10 points and six rebounds (four offensive), it wasn’t enough to cure Missouri’s offensive struggles.

No. 17 Missouri is now playing .500 ball over the last six games, falling 73-70 to LSU on the road Wednesday night. The offensive woes for Missouri got LSU off to a double-digit lead heading into halftime. as the home team led by as many as 16 in the first half. Mizzou shot 27 percent in the first half, 37 percent for the game. In three of Missouri’s last four games, the Tigers have shot in the 30’s.

Midway through the second half, LSU still held a 10-point lead. That’s when Mizzou made a run to get back in the game. During a seven minute stretch Missouri outscored LSU 13-6 to get withing three several times off baskets from Earnest Ross and Phil Pressey.

LSU would initially fight off Missouri comeback. But with under a minute to go, LSU gave Missouri it’s best chance to steal the win by missing free throw after free throw.

Shavon Coleman made one free throw to make it 73-70 and proceeded to miss his next four. Offense plagued Mizzou until the end, as the Tigers couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

Pressey led Missouri (15-5, 4-3) with 25 points, five assists and four rebounds. Anthony Hickey, the nation’s steals leader, provided the defensive pressure, while also scoring 20 points to go along with four assists and two steals for LSU (11-7, 2-5)

Missouri tried to get back on track against Auburn at home on Saturday. The Tigers are now 0-3 on the road in SEC play with double-digit losses at both Ole Miss and Florida.

In those three road losses, Mizzou is shooting under 37 percent. Turnovers were a problem against Ole Miss and Florida, as the Tigers averaged 20 turnovers over those two games. Against LSU, Missouri only coughed it up eight times.

Mizzou will look to gets its first SEC road victory against Texas A&M next Thursday.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: