Anytime Missouri plays a game against a team in the top 25, you would be smart to tune in. They press, they shoots a lot of threes, and they always seem to have unbelievable swings in momentum.
Today was no different.
For this third time this season, the Tigers played an instant classic on national television, losing in overtime this afternoon to Texas A&M 91-89.
Regulation was fantastic, as both teams went back and forth for 40 minutes. Missouri got up double digits early in the game, but Khris Middleton scored 15 points to spark a 33-12 run that turned a 19-7 deficit into a 40-31 lead. A&M was able to go basket for basket with Missouri early in the second half, but a 19-8 surge — sparked by 15 points from Ricardo Ratliffe and Phil Pressey and capped by a layup from Laurence Bowers — gave the Tigers the lead back.
From that point on, the game was like a heavyweight fight, but instead of punches being thrown, the two teams traded clutch jump shots.
Marcus Denmon put the Tigers up four. BJ Holmes answered with a three. After back to back jumpers from Phil Pressey, a Dash Harris three point play got A&M within one. Bowers hit one free throw, and Middleton hit two at the other end, and everyone got what they wanted — free basketball.
And those five extra minutes ended up being an extension of the end of regulation. A&M took an early lead, but Pressey answered with a three to put Missouri up one. That’s when the Khris Middleton show began. On three straight possessions, Missouri hit a shot to give the Tigers the lead, and after each possession, Middleton answered with a jumper of his own to take the lead back. The one time he didn’t, Holmes missed one of two free throws, and Missouri went the other way up one with a chance to take the clock down under 40 seconds. The Tigers missed a jumper, but the offensive rebound bounced out to Denmon, who tried to drive instead of pull the ball out.
A&M stole the ball, and Middleton was off the other way for a layup that game the Aggies a lead they wouldn’t reliquish, as Middleton hit three of four free throws down the stretch to ice it. All told, Middleton had 13 of his points in the final 5:14 of the game.
In all honesty, both of these teams looked terrific. Missouri lost a tough one of the road, which happens. The Tigers had trouble with turnovers — both committing then (two in the last minute of overtime) and forcing them (Texas A&M only had nine turnovers) — but they also essentially battled to a draw on the glass with one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
For the Aggies, this win will vault them into the discussion of serious contenders for the Big XII title.
And it should help get Khris Middleton the attention he deserves.
For a team whose reputation is based on their defense and rebounding, the Aggies looked awfully impressive on the offensive end of the floor, especially in the clutch.