An already difficult season for Missouri took another painful turn with 13:18 remaining in the second half of a 65-60 loss Tuesday at South Carolina.
Diving for a loose ball, Tigers sophomore Wes Clark suffered a dislocated right elbow. Gamecocks junior forward Michael Carrera, who also dove for the ball, landed on Clark’s arm as he extended it to reach for the ball.
“It was real tough to see him go down, because that’s my roommate and one of my best friends on the team,” said senior Keith Shamburger, who led MU with 13 points and five assists in 39 minutes.
It’s also the last thing that Missouri, which has lost 10 straight games overall and 11 consecutive road games, needed in Kim Anderson’s inaugural season.
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Clark, the team’s leading scorer at 11.8 points per game in SEC play, remained crumpled on the floor writhing in pain for a few minutes as his arm was put in an air cast and he was led off the floor by MU’s medical staff.
“I got probably one of the worst looks at it … …,” said South Carolina sophomore Sindarius Thornwell, who led all scorers with 14 points. “It was nasty and hanging out.”
Clark had emerged as a leader for the Tigers, 7-17 overall and 1-10 in the SEC, but now he might be lost for the season.
“They’re going to evaluate it when we get back to Columbia,” Anderson said. “… I don’t want to speculate, but I think he’s hurting pretty bad.”
Clark — who returned to the arena after getting X-rays taken at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks’ football facility — said he was fine thinks he might be sidelined for six weeks.
“(My) heart goes out to Wes Clark,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “It’s moments like that, as a coach, makes you sick. I know Kim, my conversations with him, he’s fighting to create a culture, and I know Wes is one of the guys that’s bought in to what he’s fighting for.”
Missouri definitely wanted to fight for Clark after the injury.
“When Wes went down … I thought we really stepped it up a notch,” Anderson said. “We were forced to play with one ball-handling guard and, even at the end, we played with four big guys. Loved our effort, but obviously didn’t win the game, but I was really pleased with how we fought and competed.”
The Tigers trailed 40-34 when Clark got hurt.
Shamburger immediately drilled a three-pointer, cutting South Carolina’s lead in half, but turnovers helped the Gamecocks, 12-11 overall and 3-8 in the SEC, spread the lead to 10 points.
Thornwell had a layup and three-pointer during a 9-2 run that put South Carolina in front 52-42 before Missouri countered with its own 9-2 run.
Freshman D’Angelo Allen, who entered the game with one three-pointer in conference play, delivered the second of his three from long range to kick off the outburst.
Junior Deuce Bello, who started for the second straight game, added a dunk in transition.
After a floater by South Carolina’s Tyrone Johnson, Missouri sophomore Johnathan Williams III got a tip-in before perhaps the best offensive possession of the season.
Williams, who finished with 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds, threw a ball from the left wing to Allen at the high post, who immediately rocketed a no-look pass to Jakeenan Gant on the baseline for an uncontested slam.
The Tigers trailed only 54-51 with 2:55 remaining at that point, but the Gamecocks pulled away again from there.
South Carolina went six of six at the free-throw line in the final 39 seconds, keeping Missouri at arm’s length and moving two games clear of last place in the standings.
The Tigers’ 10-game losing streak is the longest since a 12-game skid in 1966-67. Their 11-game road losing streak is the longest since a 23-game slide that began late in the 1995-96 season and continued through the end of the 1997-98 season.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.