COLUMBIA, Mo. – Liberty’s offensive struggles in the second half proved to be the difference in the game, as the Flames (4-3) fell to the undefeated Mizzou Tigers (4-0) 69-60, Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena.
Liberty’s defense made it difficult for Mizzou’s offense, as the Tigers started the game 3-10 from the field. Liberty started the game working the three-point line, shooting 60 percent (3-5) from beyond the arc in the first 10 minutes of the game. Midway through the half, Liberty would go on an 8-0 run to take a 16-8 lead. Liberty would hold Mizzou to 28 points, the fewest points the Tigers have scored in a half this season (34 previous low at Wichita State). Despite shooting a lower percentage than the Tigers in the first half, Liberty went into the break with a 32-28 lead. Liberty had eight players score in the first half led by Blake Preston’s seven points.
The Flames and Mizzou went back-and-forth at the beginning of the second half with nine lead changes in the first eight minutes of the half. Mizzou’s offense picked up, shooting 30 percent in the half. Mizzou tightened up on defense, forcing the Flames to struggle on offense, holding the Flames without a made field goal for over nine minutes. Liberty’s drought led to a 12-3 run for the Tigers to jump out to their largest lead of the game (63-50). The Tigers were able to keep Liberty at arm’s distance to hold onto the win.
Key Stats & Notes
- Blake Preston scored a career-high 12 points.
- Elijah Cuffee moved up to No. 41 on Liberty’s all-time scoring list with 760 career-points.
- Liberty had two players score double-figures led by Preston’s 12 points.
- Liberty shot a season-low 36 percent from the field.
- Chris Parker’s five assists was tied for a game high.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“The least important statistic of the game is the halftime score, so that irrelevant to us. We thought we were defending, especially with the foul trouble that we a crewed, we defended fairly well. They overwhelmed us in the second half. That length of theirs is hard, and hard to play against.”
Liberty will return home to face Columbia International on Saturday, Dec. 12. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at Liberty Arena and can be seen on ESPN+.