COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — A COVID-19 pause left Missouri a little rusty before the Tigers shook it off and beat Texas A&M.
Dru Smith scored 15 points and the 17th-ranked Tigers beat the Aggies 68-52 on Saturday. It was Missouri’s first game since Jan. 5 before they got paused because of a positive coronavirus test within the program.
Though Missouri was without its full team for practice for a week while players were quarantined, the Tigers used the break to regain focus after the early-January loss.
“We were watching film on our own and stuff, just making sure the we were locked in still,” senior forward Jeremiah Tilmon said. “That helped us out. In our group chats, (we were) making sure that we were going into this game being focused. Making sure we were keyed in on defense and taking open shots. Making sure that we had the right energy.”
Tilmon had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers (8-2, 2-2 SEC).
Sophomore guard Andre Gordon paced the Aggies (7-5, 2-4) with 19 points.
The Tigers led 27-24 at the half and used a 21-5 run midway through the second half to take control of the game.
After trailing for the majority of the first half, Missouri mounted a 12-2 run to close out the half and held the Aggies scoreless for the final four minutes. In that run, Texas A&M went 0-for-11 from the field.
Streaking unabated through the middle of the paint, Tilmon collected a missed corner 3-pointer by Torrence Watson and slammed it home in one motion. Tilmon’s put-back dunk was part of a 11-0 Missouri second half run.
A&M coach Buzz Williams said it was a drop in defensive energy that opened the door for Missouri’s second-half offensive surge.
“I thought we closed down the half without much energy,” he said. “It wasn’t zero energy, it was just lacking, relative to the cohesiveness we need to play with on both ends. And then I think we started the second half worse than we ended the first half.”
Missouri has a chance to put together its first winning streak of conference play, having alternated losses around its win Jan. 2 against Arkansas. Despite starting off strong against the Tigers, the Aggies repeated a trend of only one half of strong play in the loss.
With the win, Missouri claimed its third true road victory before Jan. 16 for the first time since the 1994-95 season. It was achieved this season after a near one-month delay.
Texas A&M travels Wednesday to Vanderbilt.
Missouri hosts South Carolina on Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.
Game time is 6 p.m.