Missouri men's basketball falls to Texas A&M, now 0-10 in SEC

Missouri’s Tamar Bates looks to pass around Texas A&M’s Andersson Garcia during Wednesday night’s game at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Associated Press)
Missouri’s Tamar Bates looks to pass around Texas A&M’s Andersson Garcia during Wednesday night’s game at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Associated Press)

COLUMBIA -- Twice the Tigers looked to have momentum, and twice the Aggies answered it with extended runs.

Texas A&M used a run of 16-2 to end the first half and one of 17-2 partway through the second to build a 79-60 Southeastern Conference win at Mizzou Arena on Wednesday.

With the loss, Missouri remains winless in SEC play at 0-10 and has dropped 13 of its past 14 games.

“We had moments in that game where we could have taken the lead, forcing Texas A&M to play from behind,” Missouri coach Dennis Gates said. “We just weren’t able to execute like I thought we would have, especially from the free-throw line.

“It’s almost like we have to play perfect basketball, especially with our injuries. Our margin of error is very slim because of those situations we’re in.”

The teams went back and forth early, trading the lead six times and tying three more in the opening minutes.

Missouri took its final lead when Mabor Majak connected on a follow dunk off an offensive board, then hit an and-1 free throw to put the Tigers up 23-22.

It was electric,” Missouri guard Curt Lewis said. “I feel like it gave us momentum and got the home crowd on their feet, it was a big game changer for sure.”

“If you look at that opportunity, it’s almost like that’s when we also stopped being able to manufacture half-court baskets,” Gates said. “But Mabor’s energy was electric and he was able to put us in a position to take the lead.”

The dunk completed a 6-0 Tiger run with 7:54 left in the first half, giving the Tigers momentum. Then the Aggies took it all away.

Texas A&M answered with a 16-0 run across nearly eight minutes to build a 38-23 lead, holding the Tigers scoreless from the 7:54 mark until Anthony Robinson ended the streak with two free throws with 0:13 left on the clock.

“We got caught in a couple of situations where I had to get a fresh guy in and sometimes the lineup wasn’t a conducive lineup for some of our offensive rotations because we were limited,” Gates said.

Missouri seemed to have momentum to start the second half as well, chipping away to get back within 10 and eventually within three after an Honor 3 made the score 46-43 with 12:57 left to play. Honor scored a season-high 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 3-0f-8 from 3. Honor led the team in attempts and makes in the absence of leading scorer Sean East, who missed the game with a knee contusion. East is listed as day-to-day.

“I really just wanted to win,” Honor said. “Coach has been getting on me since I’ve been here about being aggressive. … I just wanted to stay aggressive, I put the work in. Every time I shoot, I feel like it’s going in. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win.”

But the Aggies answered once again, pulling away to a 49-43 lead before an Honor jumper made it 49-45. Texas A&M then scored 17 of the next 19 points to pull away for good, putting the Aggies up 66-47 with 8:47 left.

“Ultimately when you look at the game, you have to look at those runs,” Gates said. “… Sometimes in games when field goals aren’t falling, you need to manufacture points at the free-throw line and we weren’t able to do that.”

The Tigers were plagued by many of the same issues they have been throughout the skid.

Texas A&M outrebounded them 40-22, leading to a 15-5 lead in second-chance points. The Aggies built a 48-26 lead in points in the paint as well, while leading 24-9 on points coming off turnovers.

Missouri’s interior defense continued to struggle as Texas A&M shot 19-of-26 on layups as well as a dunk, making up for a lackluster 4-of-17 day from beyond the arc for the Aggies.

The matchup became the 11th this season when a Missouri opponent made more free throws than the Tigers attempts, as Texas A&M hit 15-of-19 (78.9 percent), while the Tigers were 9-of-13 (69.2 percent).

“We can’t play the game that way,” Gates said. “It puts too much pressure on your half-court offense if you can’t manufacture points at the free-throw line.”

Tamar Bates continued his string of consecutive games in double digits with a team-high 20 points, with 17 coming after halftime, while knocking down all four of his free throws to bring him within two makes of the team record for consecutive makes at the charity stripe.

Noah Carter added 11 points and four rebounds, while Aidan Shaw led the Tigers with seven boards.

Tyrece Radford scored a game-high 22 to lead Texas A&M, while Wade Taylor IV had 18 and Jace Carter scored 12. Andersson Garcia came off the bench to bring down a game-high 16 rebounds, eight offensive and eight defensive.

“When you have a guy with eight offensive rebounds along with eight defensive, 16 total, I don’t know the last time one of our guys had double-digit rebounds,” Gates said.

Missouri (8-15, 0-10) will try once again to break its SEC skid when it hosts Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.