Even with the increased elevation from the court, porous defense and continued cold shooting proved to be the shovels as the Missouri Tigers dug themselves into a six point halftime hole that they could not pull themselves out of.
As MU clanged shot after shot off the Memorial Arena rims, the Vanderbilt Commodores gobbled up each rebound like a squad full of rainbow-haired Dennis Rodmans. Vanderbilt operated their own carwash, cleaning the glass to a 45-24 rebound advantage which proved to be the deciding factor in Nashville Tuesday night.
The combination of poor outside shooting and the lack of second-chance shots left Missouri helpless, often times cycling the ball around the perimeter only to settle for a forced, low percentage shot. On the other end, Vanderbilt grabbed six more offensive rebounds and tipped countless others to keep second and third chance shots available.
Many times in the first half, Vanderbilt guards brought the ball up the court with no pressure whatsoever. They slashed into the lane, dishing for easy lay-ups and open three's.
And then there was A.J. Ogilvy. The 6'11'' center scored a season high 25, including 11-12 from the free throw line. MU did not have an answer to the Aussie. Ogilvy powered through double and triple teams for baskets down low early. The Tigers then resorted to a hack-a-Shaq philosophy on the junior from down under, only to watch him put the game continually just out of the Tigers' reach.
Ogilvy's biggest contribution to the game might have been on the other end of the court. MU guards were hesitant to work the ball down low. When post players did get touches, they nervously shoveled it off to a man two feet away, kicking it out of bounds on numerous occasions.
Ogilvy, Australian for basketball.
The quick whistle officiating did MU no favors either. Missouri was unable to get into any sort of rhythm, essential to their "Fastest 40 Minutes" style of play. Despite consistant calls for both sides, the stop-and-go nature of the game matched the Tigers up-tempo style as well as plaid pants and a striped shirt:it was just painful to look at.
The Tigers went on an 11-0 run that brought the game to 81-80 with just under three minutes to play. A controversial charging call on JT Tiller gave the ball back to the Commodores. They didn't look back from there.
Coming back to Mizzou Arena to face Oregon Saturday, the Tigers must either grow a few inches or something between the legs to toughen up on the boards. On the defensive end, all five Tiges on the floor must hit the glass. Tiller and Taylor and Dixon do not need to lead the team in rebounding. But they can be pests inside, tipping balls to open players, using their quick hands to deflect balls out of opponents' hands. Anything but stand idly by and watch.
Or else the Tigers will be doing a lot of watching come March.