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Sluggish second half on defensive end leads to Missouri rout over Georgia

Sluggish second half on defensive end leads to Missouri rout over Georgia

Going into its bout with Georgia Wednesday night, Missouri basketball didn't expect a lower-scoring first half than that of the football game between the two schools in October.

Georgia (11-4, 2-2 SEC) has gotten offensive production from plenty of players this season.

Jontay Porter and Kassius Robertson led Mizzou in scoring with 15 points each.

It was a stunning development Wednesday for Maten to be held to only nine points and two rebounds. The Bulldogs were unable to find a rhythm with their star player, nor were they able to get him the necessary touches he needs.

And a lot of that has to do with the Missouri defense. Credit Kevin Puryear down low for doing a number on Maten. Six seconds later, Missouri had whipped the ball to the other end of the court, and Tilmon dunked it. Entry lanes were limited and Maten rarely had easy looks.

That's what most people expected of Porter's older brother, fellow freshman Michael Porter Jr., who shared the preseason player of the year honors with Maten but hasn't played since the opening minutes of Mizzou's first game and continues to recover from back surgery.

Since the upset loss at Massachusetts, Georgia's defense has played exceptionally well - even in the program's 66-61 loss to Kentucky. It was all part of an effort that turned around Mizzou's abysmal shooting in the first half - the Tigers shot 57 percent after the break, guided by 15 points on the night from Robertson and freshman Jontay Porter. However, the Tigers started the second half on a 16-4 run that gave them the lead for good.

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But down 23-20 at the break, Cuonzo Martin's squad made all the adjustments that led to a 68-56 win over the Bulldogs (11-4, 2-2) in Columbia. Wolf had appeared in four games this season with three 3-pointers, all in the final moments of lopsided home wins, when he'd summon his own cheer from the student section: "Feed the Wolf!"

The Bulldogs got within two with a 10-2 run, but Robertson personally nixed the surge with a 3-pointer, a transition dunk off a steal in the backcourt and another 3. In the second half, Georgia gave up 48 points, which usually doesn't bode well for the final score.

With Missouri playing the post well, Georgia could not get the ball inside.

Missouri took advantage of a sizeable free-throw disparity, making 15 of 17 at the line while Georgia was just 5 of 5. Losing the free-throw battle by 10 points proved hard to overcome.

"Give their team defense credit", Fox said.

Coming into Wednesday, KenPom.com had been able to reliably track Missouri's lineups for 98.9 percent of Missouri's past five games. That meant the 6-foot-11 Porter, making his first start, played alongside the 6-foot-10 Tilmon for decent chunks of this win. Conversely, Georgia turned Missouri over only six times and scored two points off of those.

Missouri shot 2 of 8 and Georgia 3 for 7 in the first five minutes. Maten came into the game averaging 20 points and had failed to reach double digits just seven times in his previous 76 games.


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