Three of the local men’s basketball programs were in action on Friday playing the second, third and fourth ranked team’s in the nation. As I covered last night, Kansas State and UMKC both were beaten handily by Michigan and Ohio State respectively. For the #13 Missouri Tigers, I had hopes of a statement victory over the #2 ranked Louisville Cardinals and considered them the most likely of our local teams to pull the upset.
Unfortunately they followed the same losing path as the Wildcats and Roos had earlier in the day. With their 23 point loss, 61-84, the Tigers missed out on the chance to face #5 Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship.
Missouri shot 46.0% from the floor and won on the boards 35-27. Those are positives to be sure but they couldn’t offset the 21 turnovers which Louisville used to their advantage taking 13 more shots than the Tigers on the night and shooting just shy of a 50.0% clip.
Alex Oriakhi had another solid game in the loss with his 15 point, eight rebound effort. He shot well from the floor (7-11) but struggled from the line making just one of five attempts. This comes as a bit of a surprise since Alex was 26-31 from the line in his previous three games. Phil Pressey contributed 15 points on 6-15 shooting and dished out seven assists. All in all however he didn’t have his best game and was pressured into eight turnovers. Missouri needed Laurence Bowers to show up but he was limited by foul trouble and was not a factor in the game. He finished with just six points and one rebound in 22 minutes. Junior forward Tony Criswell came off the bench to chip in nine points and seven rebounds. His 23 minutes were a season high and led to his best game of the year thus far.
Four of Louisville’s five starters scored in double digits but it was junior forward Luke Hancock, who came off the bench to lead the team with 19 points in 21 minutes. Hancock was 5-7 from three and accounted for the bulk of the Cardinals nine makes beyond the arc. Junior guard Russ Smith had the best stat line of the night with 18 points, six rebounds, six steals and three assists. In addition to what shows up in the box score, he was one of the key reasons Missouri and Pressey struggled so much to take care of the ball.
There’s no question that Louisville is the better team at this point in the season, but the Tigers are not as far behind as the final score would suggest. However, Missouri needs Laurence Bowers to become more consistent from game to game and from half to half.
Missouri (4-1) will take on the VCU Rams (3-2) tonight in the 3rd place game. Tip-off is set for 6:00 pm CT. They will then host Appalachian State (1-4) on December 1st.
As mentioned above, Louisville (5-0) advanced to the Championship round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament and will square off against the #5 Duke Blue Devils (5-0) tonight. Tip-off is set for 8:30 pm CT.