KANSAS CITY — The Missouri men’s basketball team fell victim to another cold open and another hot start by its opponent Tuesday night in the Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center.
Oklahoma scored the first six points, led by as many as 18 in the first half and never trailed en route to a 77-66 victory, sending the Tigers back home without a win in the two-day event.
“We just have to go out there and fight harder in the beginning,” Missouri guard Torrence Watson said. “Coach (Cuonzo Martin) really just talked about we have to figure out what's causing us not to execute in those first four or seven minutes.
“We've just got to go back to Columbia and get back working hard on Friday and just put in the work and effort so we can change things.”
Missouri cut its deficit to 49-48 with 10 minutes remaining on a pair of Mark Smith free throws, but the Tigers couldn’t sustain their momentum as Oklahoma outscored them 14-4 over the next four and a half minutes to extend the lead back to 11.
Smith led Missouri (4-3) with 18 points on the night — 16 of them after halftime — while Jeremiah Tilmon scored 13 and Torrence Watson had 11.
“I thought we were better offensively,” Martin said. “We just have to keep moving, keep cutting, playing with a little confidence and shot ready, but defensively you have to play from start to finish. I think we dig ourselves holes defensively and all of a sudden say let's play some defense. It's just too hard against teams that score the ball.”
Austin Reaves scored 19 points to pace Oklahoma (6-1), which had four players in double figures.
Next up for Missouri is a home game against Charleston Southern at 7 p.m. Dec. 3.