LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Of all the things Missouri could have done wrong in Thursday night’s 84-72 loss to Colorado State in the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers didn’t think rebounding would be one of them.
The Tigers were dominated 42-19 on the boards by a Colorado State team that entered the game leading the nation in rebounding margin at plus-12.1.
The Tigers were third at plus-9.6, but it was hard to tell considering how little resistance they put up against the Rams.
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To put it another way, Colorado State center Colton Iverson had more rebounds than Missouri through 27 minutes and finished with just six fewer boards than the Tigers.
“I really don’t think anything was different,” said Missouri senior forward Alex Oriakhi, who finished with 16 points but just two rebounds. “Little bit of a lack of focus. I definitely feel on my part that we could have done a better job on blocking out.
“That’s how basketball is sometimes. I think it was a lack of focus, and they were quicker to the ball.”
Colorado State was also pretty good shooting it against Missouri (23-11). The Rams finished 49 percent from the field (25 of 51), including 7 of 14 from beyond the arc.
Missouri hit just 24 of 57 (42 percent) and 7 of 23 on 3-pointers. The result was a game controlled by Colorado State other than a few Tiger runs that made it interesting.
Phil Pressey’s 20 points led the Tigers. Jabari Brown added 14 and Earnest Ross 11 for Missouri.
“I thought they were the more aggressive team,” Tigers coach Frank Haith said of the Rams. “They really went after us and I thought they were rebounding the ball, which is what they do. They really dominated that part of the game and dominated the 50-50 balls.
“They were the aggressors. In this time of the year in tournament play, that’s usually the team that wins the game.”
The lopsided outcome was surprising considering the teams’ similarities that made this an intriguing matchup.
Besides balanced offenses with at least four starters averaging in double figures, Colorado State and Missouri also have thrived on the glass.
Iverson averaged 14.7 points per game to key Colorado State’s return to the tournament along with Eustachy, who led Southern Mississippi here last year. The 6-foot-10 senior has been helped by Wes Eikmeier (12.7 points) and Dorian Green (12.8 points) and Smith (11.1).
Missouri, meanwhile, featured one of the field’s most balanced offenses, with Laurence Bowers (14.4 points) leading five starters averaging at least 11 points per game. Pressey has been one of the Tigers’ most interesting stories, a talented guard who has tended to make mistakes in key moments.
That made for an entertaining first half that Colorado State led 47-38 by setting the offensive pace before falling into an end-to-end game more to Missouri’s liking.
The Rams shot 15 of 26 (58 percent) in the first half and seemed primed to run away from the Tigers. Green was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc.
Missouri was 15 of 30 in the first 20 minutes with four 3-pointers.
Missouri closed to 49-45 early in the second half, but the Rams responded with a 17-4 surge for their biggest lead at 66-49.
Green scored 17 of his game-high 26 points in the first half and hit 11 of 12 free throws for Colorado State, which advances to face top-seeded Louisville in Saturday’s third round Midwest Regional game. The Cardinals drubbed North Carolina A&T 79-48 in the preceding game.