Columbia, Mo. – This time of year it is better to give than receive. Unfortunately for the defensive-minded Hatters they received a taste of their own medicine tonight in a 78-44 loss to the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, Missouri. Missouri allowed the Hatters just 18 points in the first half and 26 in the second.
Offensively A.J. Smith (Cocoa, Fla.) and Kris Thomas (Lithonia, Ga.) led the way for Stetson with 10 points each. Eric Diaz pulled down six rebounds to go along with 8 points. DeMarre Carroll (Birmingham, Ala.) led the Tigers with 14 points.
A key statistic for Stetson was a 1-for-17 effort from 3-point territory. To beat a team like Missouri, Stetson needs to be able to take advantage of its long ball opportunities.
“We had some good looks early, we had our chances. Against a team like Missouri we just can’t miss out on those early opportunities,” said Head Coach Derek Waugh.
Things looked good for Stetson early. When the whistle blew for the second media timeout at 11:46 the teams were even at 9-9 with Garfield Blair (Orlando, Fla.) and Thomas scoring four points each.
Missouri scored the next nine points on a 3-pointer and a trio of layups to make the score 18-9 before Smith hit a layup to temporarily slow the run.
The story of the first half for the Tigers was pressure. Missouri fueled a 15-2 run with relentless defense and a full court press that exposed some Hatter nerves and forced a dozen turnovers.
One Hatter who refused to be intimidated was Graeme Radford. He registered three minutes, grabbed a rebound, blocked a shot and displayed the intensity on the floor that Stetson fans have come to expect from the big Aussie.
“Graeme is coming into his own and making some nice plays every game,” said Waugh.
Smith knocked down a running jumper at the buzzer to get the Hatters back to within nine points at 27-18 heading into the locker room.
Missouri, however opened the second half with a 7-0 run forcing Coach Waugh to call a timeout and break the momentum. It worked temporarily, yet the visitors could not keep the flood gates closed for long. Missouri took advantage of its new-found confidence and started hitting just about everything it threw up at the rim. It resembled a McDonald’s commercial starring Larry Bird and Michael Jordan... Nothing but net.
Tonight’s loss, however, was not due to lack of effort by the Hatters. It was the result of outstanding play by their Big 12 opponent.
The Tigers shot 51% for the game compared to just 27% for the Hatters. At the glass Missouri finished with a 48-37 advantage.
Next up for Stetson is a trip to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators on Tuesday December 30 at 1:00 p.m. The voices of Stetson men’s basketball Murray Miller and Harry Arnold will broadcast the action; their play-by-play and analysis can be heard on Hatter Vision at www.gohatters.com, the official online home of Stetson Athletics.
Tickets for all Stetson home games are available on line at www.gohatters.com. For more information call the Stetson University Ticket Office at (386) 822-8110 or email at Hattertickets@stetson.edu.