University of Missouri

With much at stake, Missouri loses 71-56 to Georgia

Updated: 2014-02-26T07:04:59Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

— Missouri’s tournament resume has another hole and its hopes for a program-record sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance continue to fade.

The Tigers, whose effort was called into question after a loss Saturday at reeling Alabama, needed a win at Georgia to burnish that resume and talked about playing with renewed focus and determination with so much at stake.

Instead, Missouri looked uninterested at times ina 71-56 loss against the Bulldogs, who ended the Tigers’ 26-game home win streak last month and swept the season series, in front of 5,229 at Stegeman Coliseum.

Coach Frank Haith said the Tigers, especially leading scorers Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson, were pressing, though he believes the effort was better than against the Crimson Tide.

“I thought we competed,” Haith said. “Shots weren’t falling. Georgia’s a good defensive team, but I thought we had some really good looks, too.”

While Missouri’s defense wasn’t great, it was Missouri’s offense that no-showed this time.

Georgia, which had been 0-4 all time against the Tigers before sweeping the series this season, shot 52 percent, the fourth time in the last eight games an MU opponent has hit at least 50 percent.

Even more costly, though, was that the Tigers, who had averaged nearly 75 points per game, shot a dismal 32 percent, going 17 for 53 overall and only three of 18 from three-point range.

Missouri’s starting guards — Clarkson and Brown along with senior Earnest Ross — were averaging more than 53 points per game, which is the most for a Tigers trio since Doug Smith (23.6), Anthony Peeler (19.4) and Jevon Crudup (12.0) during the 1990-91 season.

Tuesday, the Tigers’ big three combined for 38 points on 11-of-37 shooting.

“They’re a good defensive team, so I think you have to credit them, but there’s a lot of things we could have done differently or better,” said sophomore Ryan Rosburg, who finished with a game-high 12 rebounds.

He explained that the offensive execution — another flaw Haith pointed to after the Alabama loss — again was spotty.

“Sometimes we went away from the offense and guys tried to take guys one-on-one,” Rosburg said. “We kind of needed to play as a team and execute as a team, trust our offense and trust our plays, then go from there.”

It didn’t happen on this night.

The 56 points are the fewest Missouri has scored since last season’s 83-52 debacle at Florida. That was also the last time the Tigers lost by as many as 15 points.

Clarkson and Brown each finished with 17 points, but Clarkson was four of 12 from the field and Brown was five of 17, including one of seven from three.

“We’ve got to keep working, and we’ve got to get Jordan and Jabari back,” Haith said. “I think those guys really are pressing right now. We just need them to relax and play.”

Meanwhile, Ross scored only four points on two-of-eight shooting.

Among the positives, freshman Johnathan Williams finished with 10 points and Rosburg helped Missouri win the battle on the boards 38-31.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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