Fresh off Thanksgiving break, the Missouri men's basketball team appeared to still have some Tryptophan in its system.
That sluggishness, combined with poor starts against Butler and Oklahoma last week in Kansas City, carried into the Tigers' return home Tuesday night against Charleston Southern.
Unfortunately for Missouri, a weak first half wasn't followed by a second-half thrashing of the Buccaneers. The road team from the Big South Conference left Columbia with a victory.
The Tigers scored only 14 points in the first 15 minutes and never found a consistent offensive rhythm, falling to Charleston Southern 68-60 at Mizzou Arena.
“We were just a step slow,” Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We just couldn't get over the hump. ... We didn't play the level we, of course, are capable of playing.”
The Tigers drop to 4-4 and have lost three straight. The Buccaneers improve to 3-5 after previous losses to Southern Utah by 35 and Furman by 44.
According to KenPom.com, Missouri entered Tuesday night's game as a 23.5-point favorite and had a 98% chance to win.
“We're just a small school in South Carolina, but we've got incredible human beings on our team,” Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “And we've had a gauntlet of a schedule. ... I knew this day was coming. I didn't know that it would start against Missouri, but I knew this day was coming because they play so hard and they play so well together.”
Charleston Southern came into the game as the second-worst 3-point shooting team in Division I, but the Buccaneers found their stroke throughout the night, including an 8-for-11 mark in the second half to hold off a late comeback attempt by the Tigers.
Charleston Southern’s Duncan LeXander led all scorers with 17 points, while Jeremiah Tilmon finished with 15 points and nine rebounds to pace Missouri. All of Tilmon’s points came in the second half.
Missouri changed its starting lineup, putting Xavier Pinson into the mix in place of Javon Pickett. Pinson posted six points and four rebounds, while Pickett scored nine points and brought down six rebounds off the bench in nine fewer minutes.
The Tigers were again dreadful from 3-point range, finishing the game 4 of 26 from beyond the arc. Take away Mitchell Smith’s 2 of 2 from 3-point range and the rest of the team was 2-for-24.
Missouri point guard Dru Smith fouled out with 8:46 to go, while Tilmon sat for long stretches of the game early with foul trouble. Tilmon did not commit a foul in the second half.
Mitchell Smith scored 10 points off the bench in the first half, which tied a career and season high.
Missouri returns to action Saturday night with a road contest against Temple (6-1) in Philadelphia.