Mizzou Falls Flat in Quick Exit from NCAA Tourney

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click to enlarge Mizzou had this much bounce yesterday.
Mizzou had this much bounce yesterday.
Mizzou continued the lackluster play that's defined much of its 2010-2011 season last night, quickly losing to the Cincinnati Bearcats in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament by a score of 78-63.

Coming into the game, the Tigers had dropped four of their last five contests, and the team, whose "40 Fastest Minutes in Basketball" is supposed to leave opponents winded, looked like they were in need of an oxygen tank by the second half.

As has become evident watching this year's lineup, the Tigers sorely need a big man to get inside the paint. Yes, Mizzou has a few players who stand at 6' 8" or taller. But compared to other teams, the Tiger big men look as lithe as ballerinas. In short, they lack the girth to dominate under the basket.

Case in point, Mizzou again had trouble getting inside last night -- going two for fifteen to end the first half on lots of forced shots from the perimeter. Mizzou shot just 38 percent from the field, and didn't score for the last seven minutes of the second half while seeing an an early lead slip away to the Bearcats. And when the Tigers did get a shot up, they rarely came down with the rebound, with Cincinnati beating Mizzou on the boards by a margin of 33-27. 

The game was as good as over at the half with the Tigers down eleven points. They got as close as six points from a tie midway through the second period before Cincy once again extended the margin.

As Mizzou now turns to the 2011-2012 season, here's hoping coach Mike Anderson can tweak his Tigers to return to the form its fans have come to expect in recent years. Yesterday was the team's first loss in the NCAA opening round in the last six attempts.

Here's hoping, too, that Anderson stays at Mizzou, as he is among the names being mentioned to take over the program at University of Arkansas, the school where he got his start in coaching. 

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