Lipscomb University is a private Christian college in Nashville and a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Normally, when playing a paycheck game against mid-major competition, the school names become interchangeable, but that’s not the case for Missouri’s men anymore.
Not after the Tigers lost 81-76 on Thursday against aforementioned Lipscomb at Mizzou Arena, the third home loss against mid-major competition for third-year coach Kim Anderson’s squad this season.
“I knew if the score was in the 70s that it would be a challenge to win,” Anderson said of an opponent that’s scored at least 71 in eight straight games now.
MU, 5-7, also lost Nov. 28 against North Carolina Central and Dec. 17 against Eastern Illinois at home.
Fun fact: Lipscomb’s athletics mascot is the Bisons, which is based on the archaic Latin plural usage of the term.
Apparently, it doesn’t matter than the correct plural form is “bisontes,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary online.
Less fun fact: the Bisons’ victory was the first against a Power Five program since a Dec. 28, 2008, win at Indiana when the Hoosiers were embarking on a 6-25 season in Tom Crean’s first in Bloomington.
“It hurts,” said junior forward Jordan Barnett, who set career highs with 15 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. “I don’t like losing. I haven’t won a game yet here, so it definitely hurts. We’ve just to get back to work. That’s all. That’s it, man. We’ve just got to let them get back to work.”
Lipscomb (7-9) was in control basically from the outset.
The Bisons led for the final 7:31 of the first half, building the margin as high as nine points behind sophomore guard Garrison Mathews’ game-best 14 points at halftime.
Missouri (5-7) had trailed had trailed for more than 30 minutes of game action before sophomore guard K.J. Walton’s personal six-point run fueled a comeback.
He delivered the Tigers’ first lead since the opening two minutes with a driving layup at the 8:05 mark in the second half.
Walton then connected on four straight free throws at the heart of an 11-0 run that turned a 60-54 deficit into a 65-60 lead for Mizzou.
The lead remained five points after a nifty, hard-nosed baseline drive and acrobatic reverse layup by sophomore guard Jordan Geist, who made his first start of the season along with Barnett.
The Bisons scored the next nine points, including the go-ahead two-hand flush on a vicious baseline thrown by sophomore forward Eli Pepper.
The Tigers’ struggles at the free-throw line — a 5-for-10 performance in the final 2:48 — proved to be their undoing.
“We did a good job of coming back,” Anderson said. “We got a lead. Then, down the stretch we couldn’t make free throws. They made free throws; we didn’t. That’s the difference in this game.”
Lipscomb went 10 of 12 at the line during that same stretch and finished 10 of 26 from three-point range.
Mizzou was only 4 of 20 from deep for the game, including 1 of 9 from long range in the second half and 13 of 23 at the free-throw line in the second half.
Missouri freshman guard Frankie Hughes, who is the Tigers’ second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game, did not suit up for the game.
Hughes did not practice all week, according to a team spokesman, but officially he was not suspended.
“Frankie didn’t get back in a timely manner from Cleveland …,” Anderson said. “He hasn’t practiced, so he wasn’t really ready to play. I held him out and didn’t play him.”
Anderson said Hughes had travel issues returning to Columbia, but he’ll probably play in next week’s SEC opener Jan. 4 against LSU.
“We met some yesterday and we met again this morning,” Anderson said. “He said he wanted to be here. Again, he hadn’t practiced, so I didn’t think it was fair to throw him out there — for him or for the team.”
Hughes’ former high school teammate at Garfield Heights in Cleveland, freshman forward Willie Jackson, announced earlier in the day he would transfer.
Geist, who finished with a career-high 18 points, and Barnett, a Texas transfer who became eligible after the first semester ended Dec. 16, started in place of Hughes and sophomore guard Cullen VanLeer.