COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri held an 11-point lead with 5:39 remaining against No. 21 Texas A&M. Then came the press, which has caused Missouri problems recently.
The Aggies trimmed the lead to one within three minutes, and stole an inbound pass down two with 14 seconds left. Texas A&M's Robert Williams missed a putback layup and the Tigers escaped 62-58 Tuesday night.
"It looked good, I thought it was going in," Missouri's Kassius Robertson said. "Just in case, we all boxed out. It rimmed out, we got a little lucky."
For the first 30 minutes, Missouri (18-8, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) played solid defense and clean offense. At halftime, the Tigers had committed just two fouls and three turnovers. Robertson led the Tigers with 16 points and Jordan Barnett added 15.
Missouri, which won its fifth straight, turned the Aggies over 16 times and committed just nine fouls. The Tigers scored 12 points off Texas A&M turnovers.
"I thought Missouri's defense, their ball pressure and our inability to get the ball inside to Tyler Davis was the big key of the game," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.
Texas A&M (17-9, 6-7) came in ranked fourth nationally averaging 41.76 rebounds per game. The Aggies won the rebounding battle 46-30, but Davis picked up his second foul with 11:07 remaining in the first half and played limited minutes after.
Davis' absence allowed Missouri's Jeremiah Tilmon to flourish, scoring a season-high 14 points.
T.J. Starks and Admon Gilder led the Aggies with 14 points each. Robert Williams had nine rebounds for Texas A&M. The Tigers held Texas A&M to just 32 percent from the field in the first half, including 1 of 13 from 3-point range.
Texas A&M: A&M's four-game winning streak, which included wins over Auburn and Kentucky last week, ended. After scoring more than 80 points in each of its last four games, Texas A&M was locked up by Missouri's defense.
Missouri: The Tigers continue to climb the SEC standings. Mizzou is fourth, a half-game behind second. When its offense doesn't turn the ball over, Missouri can be a scary opponent.
Flipped the script
Texas A&M big men Davis and Williams dominated Missouri in the post in the two teams' first meeting on Jan. 20. The Aggies fouled out both Tilmon and forward Jontay Porter.
On Tuesday, Tilmon outscored both of Texas A&M's starting bigs. This time, it was Davis in foul trouble, and the Tigers were able to keep the points in the paint battle at 28-26 in favor of the Aggies.
"Last game, they got the best of me," Tilmon said. "This game, I just went out there and played ball. The ball was coming my way, I was feeling really confident."
It’s never easy
On Saturday, Missouri held a 79-67 lead over Mississippi State with just over 90 seconds left in the contest. The game ended up going to overtime after the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 run. The Tigers won in overtime.
"We find ways to make it very interesting," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said.
"Now, we can't inbound the ball," Robertson said. "That's our new problem. We've got that on the board and we'll try to fix that."
No. 21 Texas A&M has a chance to remain in the polls with a potential rebound victory against Arkansas on Saturday. But its poll position is definitely in trouble after the loss to Missouri.
The Tigers, on the other hand, would put themselves in great shape for a top-25 ranking with a victory on the road against LSU Saturday. Missouri received 14 votes in the latest AP poll, and has now beaten three top-25 teams in the past four weeks.
Texas A&M: Plays at Arkansas on Saturday.
Missouri: Tigers take their winning streak on the road to LSU on Saturday.