Mizzou’s calculated defensive gamble pays off against Vanderbilt

02/25/2014 4:44 PM

02/25/2014 4:44 PM

During Missouri’s first meeting with Vanderbilt, a 78-75 loss Jan. 16 in Nashville, Tenn., seniors Rod Odom and Kyle Fuller torched the Tigers from the three-point line.

Odom made six of 13 from three-point tries and led the Commodores with 24 points, while Fuller went four of 11 from long range and added 22 points.

That’s 46 combined points and 10 three-pointers.

Missouri wasn’t going to let that happen again, so it made a calculated gamble and decided — as many teams have tried to do against the Tigers this season — to force Vanderbilt’s big men to beat them.

“The next time you play those guys, you’re not going to let them make 10 threes against you,” Tigers coach Frank Haith said.

Missouri’s primary defensive focus on Wednesday when Vanderbilt played at Mizzou Arena was chasing Odom off the three-point line.

He got free a few times early, but the Tigers, by and large, kept Odom in check.

“We did our job on him, and that’s a team effort to keep running a shooter like that into tough shots,” junior Jordan Clarkson said.

It worked.

Odom went three for 13 from the field and two of nine from three-point range, finishing with only 10 points. He missed all six second-half shots.

Meanwhile, Fuller failed to connect on eight first-half shots and finished one for 12 overall, including a zero-for-three performance from three-point range.

Far from the dominant performance in Nashville, Odom and Fuller, who did have a game-high nine assists, combined for only 16 points and went four of 25 from the field and two of 12 from three-point range.

The tradeoff for the Tigers was that the Commodores controlled the paint.

Vanderbilt, which was outrebounded 45-35 in the first meeting, won the battle on the boards. Missouri got beat 35-29 on the glass and had only four offensive rebounds.

The Commodores also outscored the Tigers 32-20 in the paint led by freshman Damian Jones’ team-high 19 points and 13 from junior James Siakam.

Of course, the tradeoff was well worth it, because it came in a 67-64 victory that has Missouri tied for fourth in the SEC standings and possibly in position for a double bye in the conference tournament next month.

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