ATLANTA (AP) — Jabari Brown scored 26 points, Earnest Ross added 24 and Missouri barely kept alive its hopes of an NCAA bid, beating Texas A&M 91-83 in double overtime in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday.
The Tigers (22-10) squandered a nine-point lead in the second half, and Texas A&M (17-15) forced another extra period when little-used senior Blake McDonald made a steal under the basket and flipped to Alex Caruso for the tying layup with 8 seconds remaining.
Missouri twice failed to get off a shot with chances to win the game in the closing seconds. It didn’t matter. The Tigers finally wore down the Aggies, who had lost at Missouri 57-56 just eight days earlier.
Caruso led Texas A&M with 28 points, hitting 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Jamal Jones chipped in with 20 points.
Missouri dominated on the inside, outrebounding the Aggies 48-28 and going a staggering 40 of 53 at the foul line. That’s where Brown did much of his damage, drawing fouls and knocking down 14 of 18. Ross connected on 9 of 10 free throws.
After being down much of the game, Texas A&M surged ahead 68-64 with 1:52 remaining in regulation on yet another 3-pointer from Caruso.
But Missouri tied it up with four straight free throws, sandwiched around a missed 3 by Antwan Space.
Both teams squandered chances to win it in regulation. The Aggies’ Kourtney Roberson missed a turnaround jumper with 15 seconds remaining. Missouri grabbed the rebound and called a timeout to set up a potential final play.
Jordan Clarkson dribbled up court slowly, then spun into the lane and tried to dump off a pass. Texas A&M broke it up, and the horn sounded as the teams scrambled for the loose ball, leaving the score tied at 68.
As was the case most of the day, Missouri appeared to have things under control in the first overtime, leading 77-73 after Clarkson sank a pair of free throws with 21.5 seconds remaining.
Caruso missed for the Aggies, but Roberson snatched the rebound, was fouled and made both free throws with 11.7 seconds left. McDonald, who had played only 2 minutes in the game to that point, came off the bench and made an immediate impact.
After Missouri inbounded and tried an ill-advised pass under its own basket, McDonald swooped in to make the steal, flipped it to Caruso while falling out of bounds, and watched his teammate drop in the tying shot.
Again, Missouri had a chance to win it. Again, the Tigers failed to get up a shot. Clarkson lost control under the basket and the horn sounded during another scramble for the ball.
Missouri started the season 12-1 in non-conference play but struggled once it got into the SEC part of its schedule. The Tigers went 9-9 in the league, a team once ranked in the Top 25 squarely on the NCAA bubble heading into the Georgia Dome. They are still alive, moving on to a quarterfinal game Friday against top-ranked Florida.
Texas A&M’s only hope of making the NCAAs was an improbable run to the championship in Atlanta.