Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Williams' Career Game Not Enough for Mizzou; Williams Has 27 Points but MU One Away from Record 12th Loss in a Row; College Basketball

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Williams' Career Game Not Enough for Mizzou; Williams Has 27 Points but MU One Away from Record 12th Loss in a Row; College Basketball

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, Mo. * A replenished bench and a career game from their top scorer wasn't enough to pull the Missouri Tigers out of their month-and-counting losing streak.

The misery at Mizzou Arena plunged to another low Saturday with a 77-74 loss to Mississippi State, extending the Tigers' skid to 11 games. One more loss and MU matches the most dubious of records, the longest losing streak in team history. The Tigers dropped a dozen straight in consecutive seasons, 1965-66 and 1966-67.

This time, despite the return of suspended freshman guards Montaque Gill-Caesar and Namon Wright, Mizzou rallied from a 17- point deficit but ultimately spoiled a career-high scoring day from Johnathan Williams III, whose 27 points couldn't overcome a shoddy defensive performance from the home team in front of 8,278.

Roquez Johnson and Craig Sword each scored 22 points for the Bulldogs (12-13, 5-7), who beat the Tigers for the first time in three chances in SEC play. Playing without top-scoring guard Wes Clark, out for the season with a dislocated elbow, Mizzou dropped to 7-18 and 1-11 in SEC play. Next up, the Tigers play at No. 24 Arkansas on Wednesday.

"Yeah, I see bright spots," Missouri coach Kim Anderson said after his team's sixth straight home loss. "We just have to be able to play 40 minutes. We haven't been able to do that. ... Until we do that, or until the other team juts plays really bad, then it's hard to win."

Stuck on the bench with two fouls for all but eight minutes in the first half, Williams exploded for 23 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer with 5:28 left to get the Tigers within two points.

On Missouri's next possession, Keanau Post split a pair of free throws, then put the Tigers ahead 64-63 their first lead since 8-7 early in the first half with a hook shot off Williams' offensive rebound. The lead lasted all of 17 seconds. Johnson collected an offensive rebound and scored the go-ahead basket to give MSU the lead for good.

"One possession can change everything," said MU forward Ryan Rosburg, who scored a season-high 12 points off the bench. "If they don't get that (offensive rebound) and we build a lead, who knows what can happen."

Keith Shamburger's 3-pointer got MU back within 71-69 with 1:31 left, but after a Bulldog miss, Williams missed a jumper early in the shot clock, forcing the Tigers to foul. Sword and Johnson combined for six straight free throws in the final 52 seconds to clinch the victory.

"I don't care if it's by one or by a lucky shot, any time you get a win on the road it's important," Bulldogs coach Rick Ray said.

Naturally, an offensive foul spoiled Mizzou's chance at a Hail Mary pass with 1.3 seconds left when Williams was whistled for a push on MU's last possession. The Tigers' 31 fouls tied their season- high. The Bulldogs capitalized at the foul line, making 26 of 33 free throws. Missouri struggled to initiate contact on its end of the floor, earning just 21 trips to the stripe on 20 MSU fouls. …

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