Weary Tigers too pooped to pop

Third game in six days in wake of suspension too much

Make no mistake: Missouri’s men’s basketball team was pooped.

You could see it in both halves of Monday’s 90-71 loss to Kansas University at Allen Fieldhouse. When MU coach Mike Anderson called timeouts throughout the contest, his players were relieved – and panting.

“I thought it was a quick turnaround for our basketball team,” Anderson said. “You could see the energy level in all those loose balls, especially in the second half.”

Statistical proof was obvious: Kansas held a 48-25 rebounding edge, and nothing gets boards quite like hustle.

The Tigers just had nothing in the tank for such determination, playing their third game in six days all while dealing with the suspension of five players following a Jan. 27 bar fight.

“The minutes caught up,” said guard Keon Lawrence, who had a career-high 25 points and looked much fresher than his fatigued comrades. “We just didn’t go after the ball aggressive at all with rebounding. It really killed us.”

Missouri is almost back to full power. Though Stefhon Hannah remains suspended indefinitely as he recovers from a broken jaw suffered in the Columbia bar fight, Darryl Butterfield and Jason Horton returned from two-game suspensions Monday.

Leo Lyons and Marshall Brown missed one game last week, making the Tigers dangerously thin as they entered a six-day, three-game stretch against Nebraska, Kansas State and Kansas.

Besides the rebounding edge, Missouri was 0-for-10 from three-point range Monday and 15-for-25 from the free-throw line. Though Kansas (22-1 overall, 7-1 Big 12 Conference play) led by 12 at intermission, Missouri’s inability to hit charities in the second half smothered any chance at a comeback.

That, and the tired legs.

So the Tigers (13-10, 3-5) instead will look ahead to Saturday’s game against Texas A&M after getting a day off today. With no stretches this rapid-fire until the Big 12 tournament – and much more depth expected the rest of the way – Missouri should have the legs to keep up with the heart Anderson saw against the Jayhawks.

“They never gave up,” Anderson said. “They gave out, but they never gave up.”