COLUMBIA — No. 21 Missouri felt great entering Southeastern Conference play, but those good vibes evaporated Wednesday during a 70-64 overtime loss against Georgia at Mizzou Arena.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Led by sophomores Nemanja Djurisic and Charles Mann, a guard who led the Bulldogs with 18 points, Georgia stunned the Tigers and, in the process, snapped Missouri’s 26-game home-court win streak, which had been tied for the longest in the nation.
“Give Georgia a lot of credit,” coach Frank Haith said. “They played with tremendous toughness — way, way more aggressive than we were. … They came in and just kicked our tails.”
Haith pointed to the Bulldogs’ 40-26 edge on points in the paint and 15 offensive rebounds, part of a 43-34 overall edge on the glass, as the most damning evidence that his Tigers weren’t ready for battle.
“There was a (casualness) about ourselves in the locker room prior to the game,” Haith said. “They guys will tell you, the word I hate — I hate ‘cool.’ We were really too cool, and I don’t like cool. Cool will get you beat, and cool got us beat tonight.”
Missouri, 12-2, dropped to 41-2 at home under Haith, but this one particularly stings because of the Bulldogs’ unimpressive list of wins — Wofford, Appalachian State, Chattanooga, Lipscomb, Gardner-Webb and Western Carolina.
Georgia, 7-6, hadn’t beaten any team in the RPI top 200 before Wednesday.
“It definitely stings, especially losing at home, but we have to have a short memory and bounce back,” said junior Jabari Brown, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “We can’t let one loss turn into two.”
Missouri charged to a five-point lead barely a minute into overtime when senior Earnest Ross’ old-fashioned three-point play provided a 63-58 edge, but the Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 12-1 from there.
“We didn’t have the right look about us, but hopefully we can learn from it,” Haith said. “The toughness thing is something that’s hard for a coach to accept. You’ve got to compete. That’s hard for me. We didn’t compete … and I’m disappointed that we did not fight.”
Djurisic scored Georgia’s first seven points in overtime, including a game-tying three-pointer with 1:40 remaining. Mann scored the game-winner on a 4-foot floater with 35.8 seconds left.
The Bulldogs, who made only 13 of 26 free throws overall, iced the win by going five of six at the line, while Brown missed a couple good looks at three-pointerss and junior Jordan Clarkson connected on only one of two free throws after a hard foul with 19.3 seconds left.
Georgia seemed to poised for an upset entering the final minute of regulation.
Tigers freshman Johnathan Williams III tried to bring the house down — all 9,298 in attendance — with a one-handed put-back jam, but his left-handed try clanged hard off the back iron.
Missouri led by one point at that time, but Georgia’s Kenny Gaines and Mann knifed through the paint on consecutive possessions as the Bulldogs grabbed a 56-53 lead.
Clarkson, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds but only two assists with three turnovers, stepped into a three-pointer from the top of the key, tying the game with 33.7 seconds left and had a chance to end the game in regulation, but his step-back 18-footer drew iron as time expired.
The Tigers spotted the Bulldogs an eight-point lead off the opening tip and trailed 30-25 at halftime.
Missouri led by as many as five in the second half when Brown and Ross, who finished with 15 points, combined for 11 points during a 14-2 outburst in the opening minutes, but the Tigers’ lead never grew beyond 39-34.
“It’s going to sting and I want it to sting, but we’re going to be tougher,” Haith said. “I can tell you that right now.”