In what was an incredible game and finish in Columbia, it was Missouri that came out on top with an 89-85 win over Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs had a 12-0 run at the end of regulation to force overtime, and at the beginning of overtime, Mississippi State scored the first five points to take the early lead. However, two charging violations and a 3-pointer by Missouri forward Kevin Puryear were the difference in overtime.
Nick Weatherspoon hit a three to take the one point lead with six seconds left, but was called for a charge. Basketball games can come down to one call or one shot, but this particular game came down to both.
In my preview of this one, I highlighted Nick Weatherspoon and Kassius Robertson as the top players for each team, and both lived up to the billing. The two combined for 35 points and carried their respective teams throughout the game.
However, it was the other players who stepped up to make this game even more entertaining.
Lamar Peters, Aric Holman, and Abdul Ado combined for 37 points while making a lot of hustle plays down the stretch for the Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, Puryear, Jordan Barnett, and Jordan Geist combined for 45 points and 19 rebounds, which proved to be just enough to give Missouri the edge.
The X-factor – Jordan Geist
Geist has always had the potential to break out for the Tigers, but he has lacked consistency.
He found some today in scoring 17 points while forcing two steals on the defensive end.
Without a natural point guard, Geist stepped up in this game and ran the offense effectively and kept things under control.
Difference maker – Missouri’s 3-point shooting
Missouri made 12 shots from beyond the arc, which wound up being the difference in the game.
It came down to a 3-pointer by an unlikely hero in Puryer to help the Tigers hang on for the victory.
The 3-point shot can be the difference maker in any game, and that’s especially the case when you shoot 48 percent like Missouri did in this one.
It wasn’t just one player, but the team as a whole was shooting it well from deep.
The Bulldogs travel on the road to face a Vanderbilt squad that has been very tough at home.
This loss hurts Mississippi State’s tournament resume, because Ben Howland’s squad still needs more quality wins.
The question is, are there enough of those wins left on the schedule?
The Tigers have a huge opportunity next week against Texas A&M, which would be yet another top-notch win.
Missouri is in excellent position to make the tournament after earning its fourth-straight win, but the upcoming schedule is difficult.
If the Tigers continue to play at a high level, there’s no doubt Missouri will be dancing come March.