Seeking its first road victory in nearly a year, Missouri led at the half for the first time in six games Wednesday at Texas A&M.
But the Aggies dominated the second half, pulling away for a 62-50 win that extended the Tigers’ current skid to four games, which matches the program’s longest losing streak since January 2007.
“We were the aggressor in the first half and they were the aggressor in the second half,” first-year coach Kim Anderson said. “In order for us to win, in order for us to play well, we’ve got to be the aggressor the whole game. That’s been a problem for us.”
Missouri, 7-11 and 1-4 in the SEC, has lost nine straight road games, including eight in a row in conference play.
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The Tigers’ last road win was Jan. 28 last season at Arkansas.
Missouri led by seven points at halftime and still led 36-29 at the 17:28 mark in the second half when freshman Namon Wright swished a three-pointer from the left corner.
It was downhill from there as A&M, 12-5 and 3-2 in the SEC, went on a 22-2 run during the next 8-plus minutes.
“We started pointing fingers at each other and we all started getting frustrated, but it can’t happen (any) more,” said sophomore Johnathan Williams III, who scored nine with a game-high 10 rebounds. “We are getting tired as a team of losing games that we should win or losing games that we had. It’s just getting frustrating.”
The Aggies surged in front early in the second half as juniors Jalen Jones and Danuel House combined for 13 unanswered points, including three three-pointers.
Williams ended A&M’s spurt with a jumper at the 12:05 mark.
The Aggies’ lead was only 42-38 at that point, but it was academic after another 9-0 burst by the home side.
Freshman Peyton Allen capped that run, which gave A&M a 51-38 lead, with a three-pointer at the 9:24 mark. Missouri never again drew closer than 10 points.
“I just don’t think we did a very good job of closing out on them and getting our hands up and contesting the three,” Anderson said. “And they just started making shots. They made five of 11 (three-pointers) in the second half.”
When senior Keanau Post got in foul trouble early in the second half, the domino effect it created hurt the Tigers.
It forced Williams to shift from Jones, who finished with 16 points, including 12 in the second half, and a team-best nine rebounds, to 6-foot-9, 247-pound senior Kourtney Roberson.
“That was a big game-changer right there …,” Williams said. “When I had to switch men and guard Roberson, (Jones) just started attacking our freshmen, and they’re young.”
Missouri shot 12 of 23 in the first half, but only eight of 24 in the second half. A&M shot the mirror opposite in both halves.
The Aggies’ dominance on the boards, a 37-24 rebounding edge, and ability to get to the free-throw line, where A&M was 15 of 20 compared to two of five for Missouri, proved to be the difference.
“We quit doing what made us effective (in the first half), and that was handling the basketball, executing, cutting,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to give A&M a lot of credit. They came out and guarded a lot better than they did in the first half. It’s kind of a tale of two halves.”
The first-half lead ebbed and flowed, but the Tigers took control with a 10-2 run in the final 2:37 before halftime.
Sophomore guard Wes Clark, who had 12 points with four steals and three assists at the break, started and finished Missouri’s closing kick with three-pointers as MU went into the break leading 31-24.
“We felt pretty good (at halftime), but we came out real flat,” Clark said.
It’s the first time the Tigers have led at halftime since taking an identical lead into halftime Dec. 30 against Oklahoma State at the Sprint Center.
Clark finished with a career- and game-high 18 points with six assists and five steals.
House and Jones each scored 16 to lead A&M.