An 84-69 loss at No. 18 Arkansas on Wednesday night makes it official: Missouri is enduring a historically bad season.
The Tigers’ 12th straight loss matched the school record last set in 1966-67. Missouri fell to 7-19 overall and dropped farther into the SEC cellar at 1-12. No other SEC team has fewer than four conference wins.
• First-half woes. Though they stayed close early, turnovers soon would prove costly for the Tigers. They committed 14 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes and, not coincidentally, endured a six-minute, 45-second scoreless drought. Still, they trailed by only eight at the intermission.
With Wes Clark (elbow) out and point guard Keith Shamburger still recovering from illness, the Razorbacks’ full-court pressure proved to be a much larger problem for Missouri than when the teams met in Columbia last month. The Tigers committed only eight turnovers in that 61-60 loss.
In this one, Arkansas, unbeaten when it forces 15 turnovers, forced its 15th early in the second half as it opened with a 7-0 run and took a 50-32 lead. Though the Tigers shot 55.7 percent in the second half — and finished 50 percent for the game — they were not able to get any closer than 12 points in the final 19 minutes.
Missouri at times incorporated sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III into helping bring the ball upcourt but without much success. Williams had seven of the Tigers’ 14 turnovers in the first half. He still led Missouri with 13 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season.
• Isabell returns. Freshman guard Tramaine Isabell was back in action after what turned out to be a five-game suspension for an attitude detrimental to the team. Isabell entered the game with 15:30 left in the first half and within a minute, had made a nice steal that would have resulted in two points except he blew an uncontested layup.
Overall, though, Isabell turned in a good performance. He showed as much quickness as anyone on the floor and displayed a smooth jump shot, making three of five 3-pointers on the way to a 13-point game. He struggled at times against Arkansas’ pressure and committed three turnovers, but he also contributed three assists.
• Goodness, Gant. Junior forward Ryan Rosburg earned his first start since the Illinois game after scoring 12 points against Mississippi State, but he didn’t do a whole lot with his chance. If the Tigers want to similarly reward a player for his next game, freshman Jakeenan Gant would make a good choice. He showed the type of athleticism and shooting touch that made you see how he could have been the Georgia high school player of the year in 2014.
He kept the Tigers within single digits in the first half when he scored seven points in the final 3:25. On one play in the second half, Gant excited the TV announcers with a follow dunk as he came from the baseline and slammed in a miss by Isabell with one hand. Gant finished with 11 points on five-of-seven shooting and added seven rebounds and three assists. It was his third double-figure scoring game of the season.