Geist comes through in the clutch to lead Missouri to 64-62 OT win over UCF
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri senior point guard Jordan Geist has never been afraid of big moments. Last year, he took the blame when late-game passes and shots went awry. On Sunday, Geist played the hero as he led the Tigers to a 64-62 overtime victory over UCF.
Geist scored a team-high 18 points, including a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
“It feels good to finally get one to fall,” said Geist, who missed last-second shots against Arkansas and Mississippi and had a late pass intercepted against Florida as a junior. “Last year, I took a couple of them that rattled out. To get one to fall, especially a shot like that, I love it.”
Javon Pickett added 13 points and Jeremiah Tilmon had 10 for Missouri (4-3). Tilmon’s up-and-under layup around UCF’s 7-foot-6, 310-pound Tacko Fall with 1:32 left in OT provided the winning margin.
The Knights (6-2) had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Collin Smith’s desperation shot from just inside the halfcourt line hit the backboard and rimmed out.
Aubrey Dawkins made 5 of 8 shots from 3-point range and led UCF with 22 points.
“He was good,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said of his son. “He gave us a chance to win, made some good plays for us.”
B.J. Taylor scored 12 and Smith added 11 for the Knights.
The Tigers had the ball with a chance to take the lead with 15 seconds left in regulation, but Pickett couldn’t inbound the ball within five seconds. That gave the ball back to UCF. When Dawkins hit two free throws, Missouri trailed 57-54. The Tigers had one more chance, and Geist made it count.
“I would rather have the ball in his hands, because he embraces those challenges,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. “He can deal with whatever goes with it — if it goes in or it doesn’t go in.”
The tying play didn’t go as planned. Martin didn’t divulge how the play was supposed to work.
“Hopefully you’ll see it again and you’ll see it clearly,” Martin said. “I think guys kind of got boggled up.”
TO FOUL OR NOT?
At the end of regulation, Johnny Dawkins faced the eternal coaching question of whether to foul in the final seconds with a three-point lead. UCF didn’t, and Geist made the Knights pay.
“We talked about fouling if the opportunity presented itself, and the young man on the ball didn’t think the opportunity was really there,” Dawkins said. “So he just stayed locked in on him. And you give (Geist) credit, he made a tough, tough 3 — leaning, fading.”
TAKING ON TACKO
Fall wasn’t much of an offensive factor, scoring six points, but he was a game-changer defensively, blocking six shots. He got into Missouri players’ heads, especially in the first half, when the Tigers scored just 21 points on 23 percent shooting.
“He’s a giant,” Missouri sophomore forward Mitchell Smith said. “I’m 6-10, and when I walked by him, I was looking up.”
UCF: The Knights saw their five-game winning streak end, but they continue to play suffocating defense. UCF has held its last six opponents to an average of 58.7 points. The Knights apply heavy pressure on the perimeter and have Fall inside to protect the rim.
Missouri: The Tigers got an unexpected boost from Mitchell Smith, who entered the game averaging just 3.2 points. Smith scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. He played 23 minutes before fouling out with 2:16 left in regulation. Smith started the second half in place of senior Kevin Puryear, who went scoreless, and stretched the UCF defense by making both of shots from 3-point range.
“Mitchell is one of our better flashers in the lane, and he can shoot the 3-point shot,” Martin said. “It’s a different element, and he presented some different matchups for us in a positive way on defense.”
UCF: The Knights return to Orlando for five straight home games, beginning with Saturday’s game against Grambling.
Missouri: The Tigers will play UT Arlington on Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.