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Colorado State 84, Missouri 72: Tigers Fall Early Again

Missouri has lost its first NCAA Tournament game as an SEC team.

Andy Lyons

Missouri got in a hole early that it was never able to dig out of, and so it fell by an 84-72 score to Colorado State.

The Tigers' defense entirely failed them in the first half, a high-scoring affair that left them down by nine after giving up 47 points. Mizzou would only get things together for brief stretches in the second half, cutting the lead to four early in the frame but never getting that close again. Colorado State went on a 19-6 run, turning its 47-43 lead into a 66-49 edge. There were still about 12 minutes to go in the game when that run ended, but you could tell watching the game the MU was largely done. The closest the Tigers would get again was seven.

During the half, CSU coach Larry Eustachy told the broadcast crew that his plan was to force Phil Pressey to beat them with his outside shooting. Pressey actually did fine from three, going 3-for-6 from behind the arc, but he was 4-for-13 on the rest of his shots. He led Mizzou with 20 points. Alex Oriakhi was next on the team with 16 points, and he was perfect from both the field (6-for-6) and the line (4-for-4). CSU's Dorian Green was the top scorer with 26 points, and Colton Iverson hurt Mizzou down low by grabbing 13 rebounds.

Speaking of rebounds, the Rams outrebounded Missouri by a 36-18 margin. You read that correctly: Colorado State had twice the rebounds that Mizzou did. Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers, MU's two starting frontcourt players, managed just six rebounds on the game, well below their combined season averages. Ten of the Rams' rebounds were offensive, to add insult to injury.

It's been a disappointing couple of months of March for Missouri under Frank Haith. The school suffered the ignominy of losing as a 2-seed to a 15-seed a year ago, and now it flames out in the first round again in its first tournament as an SEC team. Losing as an 8-seed is kind of an improvement, but of course, being an 8-seed in the first place is not. This was supposed to be the sport in which Mizzou helped elevate the league. Maybe next year.