Xavier Pulls Away, Deals Mizzou First Loss

By Matter, Dave | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 18, 2015 | Go to article overview

Xavier Pulls Away, Deals Mizzou First Loss


Matter, Dave, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


CINCINNATI * Kim Anderson is too proud to declare any moral victories, even with a team loaded with players barely old enough to vote. But Missouri's second-year basketball coach only found a few nits to pick after Tuesday's 78-66 loss at Xavier, a far more experienced team that didn't pull away until the final seven minutes.

"We didn't quit. We kept fighting," Anderson said. "That's a good (Xavier) basketball team."

In a game that saw 11 lead changes and eight ties, the Tigers were fearless but too often careless in their first game away from home, committing 18 turnovers, one more than they had in their first two wins combined. Mizzou (2-1) held its own for a half at one of the nation's toughest arenas for visiting teams, but hanging around wasn't enough.

Xavier 6-6 guard Trevon Bluiett, a matchup challenge for the Tigers all night, powered the Musketeers (2-0) in the second half, scoring 13 of his game-high 18 points. Bluiett and forward James Farr combined to score Xavier's first 13 points of the second half as Xavier gradually got some separation. Farr finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

"We knew we weren't really playing to the best of our capability offensively and defensively," Bluiett said. "We wanted to come out and win that first minute and come out with a lot of energy. I just got going early and my teammates knew that."

The only thing that slowed Bluiett all night was the elevated dais in Xavier's postgame interview room. The sophomore tripped over the step and crashed to the floor before talking to reporters. He came up laughing, making sure no one had tweeted his fall. The Tigers had more trouble slowing Bluiett, who plays the four position for Xavier, a spot usually reserved for a bigger forward.

Anderson had mixed success with a four-guard lineup late in the first half, but guarding Bluiett with natural forwards like Jakeenan Gant and D'Angelo Allen proved to be a poor matchup.

"I think that's something that we have to be able to have four guys on the floor who can guard guys like him," Anderson said. "That was a huge problem for us, especially in the second half."

After opening with three games in five days, the Tigers get a break until back-to-back games in Kansas City next week as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Mizzou plays Kansas State on Monday and either North Carolina or Northwestern on Tuesday.

Missouri players were disappointed but not deterred by the season's first setback.

"We're a young team, so we'll learn a lot," said freshman guard Cullen VanLeer, who led the Tigers with a season-high 13 points. …

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