Mizzou vs. No. 3 Florida: 9 Thoughts on a Wild Game

Corey Noles@@coreynolesCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2014

Mizzou vs. No. 3 Florida: 9 Thoughts on a Wild Game

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    When the Missouri Tigers traveled to Gainesville, Fla. Tuesday to face the Florida Gators, no one expected a victory. Of course, no one expected a Mizzou lead at the half, either.

    The Tigers hung in close with the Gators in the O-Dome until the last few minutes of the game when the margin stretched out to 10 points—where it stayed until the conclusion.

    The Gators kept their 28-game home winning streak intact, and the Tigers fell to 4-5 in the SEC. While being upside down this late in the season isn’t where the Tigers wanted to see their conference record, the odds are in their favor to finish considerably better overall.

    Before we get to that, here are a handful of thoughts on Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Gators and the remaining weeks of the season.

1. Mizzou Defense Solid Early—Stutters Shaky Florida Offense

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    The Tigers did a good job out of the gate Tuesday night of keeping the Gators from getting comfortable.

    Riding a 27-game home winning streak, the Gators looked awkward from the start. Missed passes, early turnovers and blown rebounds cost them early.

2. Brown Was Only 1-of-5 from the Field in First 12.5 Minutes

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    With Mizzou up by as many as six points 12 minutes into the game, they did it for the most part without star player Jabari Brown.

    Jordan Clarkson coming to life early helped Mizzou take advantage of the Gators’ early mistakes. In the end, though, had Brown been able to get through early, the game could have looked very different.

3. Florida Sloppy Early, Slapping the Ball Around

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    Through the majority of the first half, Florida looked less like a No. 3 team and more like a 33. Careless play and poor shot selection ruled the first half and could easily have cost them the game.

    A series of turnovers in the first half gave Mizzou an opportunity to pull away—for a little while.

4. The Kasey Hill-Chris Walker Alley-Oop to Tie Up 2 Minutes into the First

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    For the first time of the night, the O-Dome literally came to life—and Mizzou was feeling the pressure.

    Dave Matter, Tigers beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, referred to the game as the “loudest road atmosphere the Tigers have seen all season.”

    A well-placed timeout by Frank Haith saved the Tigers from what could have quickly become an early mental breakdown.

5. Jabari Brown Comes to Life with a 3-Point Bomb to Lead at the Half

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Another Chris Walker dunk? Nah. Brown drops a three-pointer from beyond NBA-range to end this first half with a Mizzou lead. Coincidentally, it also ended ALL Florida cheers—for a little while.

    Mizzou had all of the momentum going into the half but never got their footing back in the game's second half.

6. Clarkson Three to Regain Mizzou's Final Lead at 17:03

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    The Gators came back from halftime out for blood, and a pair of key shots gave Florida its first lead of the second half. Clarkson fixed that when he drained a super-clutch three to put Mizzou back on top for the final time of the game.

    While the Tigers clung to hope early on, eventually Florida just came to life and took over the game for good.

7. The “Frazier 3”

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    The final death knell for Mizzou came when Michael Frazier II drained four effortless three-pointers in the second half. Frazier’s second-half performance showed exactly what Mizzou is missing—that last shot.

    They consistently hang in close with top-end teams but can’t seem to get through with that much-needed knockout punch. To beat a team like Florida, that extra sting has got to be in place.

8. Florida Shut Down Jabari Brown

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    In the end, the game came down to the fact that Florida’s defense shut down Jabari Brown. The Gators held Brown to 15 points on the heels of a six-game stretch in which he averaged 25.8 PPG. He tied a career-high with six assists but wasn't able to get the shots he needed.

    If Brown was able to get a few more clean looks, this game could easily have been one of the most surprising upsets of the season.

9. Mizzou’s Remaining Schedule Is Favorable

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Outside of a pair of games against the Tennessee Volunteers, the remaining nine games on the Tiger’s schedule are quite winnable. The Tennessee games are as well, but they’re one of the more evenly matched contests left to go.

    During that stint, the Tigers will have the opportunity to avenge a pair of ugly losses earlier in the season against Vanderbilt and Georgia. Those aren’t teams Mizzou can afford to lose to twice in the same season.