COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou Men’s Basketball got scoring from 10 different players, but Eastern Illinois hit seven second-half three-pointers, including two key shots in the final 3:30 of play, to steal a 67-64 result from the Tigers Saturday afternoon (Dec. 17) at Mizzou Arena.
Freshman forward Willie Jackson (Cleveland, Ohio) led Mizzou with nine points (4-of-8 FG, 1-of-1 FT), including five down the stretch as the game tightened. Sophomore guard K.J. Walton (Indianapolis, Ind.) matched Jackson’s point total with nine points (3-of-5 FG, 3-of-5 FT), while also recording a team-best two steals.
Eastern Illinois got a game-high 22 points from Montell Goodwin, who connected on 8-of-16 attempts, including a 4-of-8 mark from distance. EIU was aided by 16 points from Demetrius McReynolds. Mizzou outscored EIU in the paint, 34-13, and Mizzou’s bench tallied 31 points against just 13 for the Panthers, but the difference in the game came from the three-point line. EIU went 8-for-29 while Mizzou made just three of its 18 attempts. Free throws also troubled the Tigers, who hit just 15-of-24 attempts while EIU went 15-for-17 from the charity stripe.
Mizzou used a 9-0 run to open an 18-8 lead, capped by a Walton layup following a steal by sophomore guard Jordan Geist (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Eastern Illinois narrowed the deficit with a 22-12 run over nine minutes, tying the game at 30-30 after a three-pointer from Goodwin with 1:34 remaining. A layup from freshman forward Reed Nikko (Maple Grove, Minn.) gave Mizzou a two-point advantage heading into intermission.
Impact transfer Jordan Barnett (St. Louis, Mo.) scored his first career Mizzou point early in the second half on a free throw. The game stayed close and EIU opened up a seven-point lead at the 12:35 mark of the second half. With Mizzou down, 55-52, Barnett ripped a steal and threw down a breakaway dunk, launching from just inside the free throw line to cut the lead to just one. On the next Panther possession, Barnett tallied the defensive board and Mizzou scored on the ensuing play to regain the lead. But EIU scored a three-pointer from McReynolds to regain a two-point lead with 6:05 to play.
Jackson converted a three-point play to put Mizzou back on top, 59-58, with five minutes remaining. Jackson then turned in a highlight-reel dunk on a put-back to extend the lead to 61-58 as he scored five consecutive points for the Tigers.
The Panthers then hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 61-61 with 4:08 remaining, but a heads up pass set up a two-on-none break, which freshman guard Frankie Hughes (Cleveland, Ohio) finished with a one-handed slam to give Mizzou a 63-61 lead with 3:31 to play.
The Panthers then connected on a pair of late three-pointers, one by McReynolds at the 3:14 mark and another by Goodwin with 1:39 remaining to take a 67-63 lead. Mizzou had a chance to tie the game on its final possession, but sophomore guard Terrence Phillips (Orange County, Calif.), who finished with a team-high seven assists, saw his game-tying three-point attempt fall off the iron. EIU grabbed the rebound as time expired to steal the result.
Mizzou is back in action Wednesday, Dec. 21, for the Annual Bud Light Braggin’ Rights game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on the Big 550 KTRS.