Mizzou cannot hang with No. 20 Arizona, falls 79-60

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou Men’s Basketball (5-4) fell to No. 20 Arizona 79-60 at Mizzou Arena on Saturday. The Tigers (5-4) hung tough with the Wildcats (8-2) for the first half and into the second, but were unable to answer for Arizona’s strong three-point shooting down the stretch.

Head coach Kim Anderson’s team got strong performances from both sophomore forward Kevin Puryear (Blue Springs, Mo.) and freshman guard Frankie Hughes (Cleveland, Ohio), who had 11 and 10 points, respectively. It was the sixth time this season Puryear and Hughes both reached double figures, and the Tigers are now 4-2 in those games.

Mizzou got down early as the Wildcats used their length defensively to hold the Tigers’ offense in check. Arizona led by as many as 17 points in the first half, as it was up 25-8 with 10 minutes to play in the first frame.

Mizzou refused to go away, though. The Tigers closed the first half on a 28-16 run, spearheaded by Hughes and sophomore guard Cullen VanLeer (Pacific, Mo.) who both had stellar individual efforts to get the Tigers back in the game.

Hughes, in one sequence, had scored eight-straight for the Tigers, including a pull-up jump shot through a foul that resulted in a three-point play. VanLeer then took his turn, splashing an open three-pointer, dropping a dime to a cutting senior forward Russell Woods (Chicago, Ill.), and nailing two free throws to bring the Tigers within five points. While Hughes and VanLeer did it offensively, Mizzou tightened up its team defense, holding Arizona’s offense to zero points over the final 2:05 of the first half. Mizzou went into the halftime break trailing, 41-36.

The second half began with a similar style as the first one ended, as the Tigers and Wildcats traded baskets. The Tigers cut the lead to four with 16:15 remaining in the game on a three-pointer from Puryear.

However, Arizona went on a 21-0 run, buoyed by stellar three-point shooting, to put the game out of reach. The Wildcats shot 13-of-24 from deep overall, even though they came into the game averaging less than six treys per game.

The Tigers take a week off for final exams before continuing their home stand on Saturday, Dec. 17, vs. Eastern Illinois. Tipoff at Mizzou Arena is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and can be seen live on SEC Network.