The past four games, the Missouri basketball players are knocking down free throws at a 90 percent rate.
The Missouri basketball team has been making its free throws and making history at the same time. The only problem is, those weren’t adding up to wins.
That could be discouraging for a team that is struggling to find a victory. But on Tuesday night, Mizzou finally got the job done, and the Tigers can thank their free-throw shooting as part of the reason they came back to beat Georgia 72-69.
Mizzou trailed Georgia by 20 points with just 13 minutes to play in Tuesday’s game. The Tigers knocked down 11 free throws in a row after that, going 11 of 13 from the charity stripe down the stretch, missing their first and last free throws in that span.
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That’s in stark contrast to what the Tigers did in the first half.
Missouri shot 3 of 4 from the line in the first half and found itself down 42-30 at halftime. The Tigers didn’t do better in the first eight minutes after the break, making just 2 of 4 freebies as they fell behind 20 points. But late in the game, the Tigers were calm, and the baskets helped the Tigers win the game.
Xavier Pinson came up clutch by cutting the game to one possession with 3:31 to play, going 2-for-2 from the line. Reed Nikko made a pair at the 2:20 mark to give the Tigers their first lead since midway through the first half. Dru Smith, who ranks second in the conference in free-throw shooting percentage at a 90.7 rate, hit his and-one to put the Tigers up two points with 1:31 to play. Then Mitchell Smith made his first attempt out of two that gave the Tigers a three-point win.
In the past four games, Missouri basketball has made 86 of 96 attempts, good for 90 percent. The Tigers’ opponents are 74 of 105, good for 70 percent. Missouri needs to get to the line more, and they did a good job of attacking the hoop against Georgia.
Against Alabama and Texas A&M, Missouri made an outstanding 56 of 57 free throws. Too bad those didn’t come with any wins, but they did help the Tigers stay in those game. If anything, it gave the young players confidence in their shots moving forward. And that’s what happened Tuesday night when they played Georgia.