COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)—Every time he bends over to catch his breath, Donald Sloan sees “Not” on top of his left shoe and “Tired” on top of his right shoe.
That attitude helped No. 18 Texas A&M finish off Missouri. The Aggies opened the second half with a 15-point run and built an 18-point lead, then leaned on clutch play from Sloan, a 61-percent free throw shooter, when things got tight at the end of a 77-69 victory on Saturday.
“Coach was yelling on the sideline, ‘Foul him, foul him,”’ Sloan said. “I made a couple and the confidence kind of went up, and I made a couple more.”
Sloan scored nine of his career-high 21 points in the final 1:12, going 7-for-8 from the line, after Missouri had shaved the deficit to seven points. He’s been using the shoetop inspiration since a five-overtime loss to Baylor last month, and Texas A&M has won five straight since then. The last three games, he’s 15-for-16 at the line.
“People have a tendency to look down at the floor, and you can use that for motivation,” Sloan said. “It can push you a little bit.”
Bryan Davis had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Josh Carter added 14 points for the Aggies (20-4, 6-3 Big 12), who had a dominating 42-25 rebounding advantage and shot 56 percent in the second half. Texas A&M won for only the second time in seven tries at Missouri, capitalizing on a program still struggling in the wake of the disciplinary suspensions of five players late last month.
“We ain’t really focused on it,” sophomore guard Keon Lawrence said. “Whatever happened, happened, and we’re trying to more forward.”
Coach Mark Turgeon said his players might have been too concerned with Missouri’s pressing style in the first half, so he apologized during the break and just asked them to be aggressive.
“We really didn’t change much of the game plan,” Turgeon said. “The first 15 minutes of the second half, we were as good as we’ve been.”
The last five minutes, he wasn’t so happy.
“We kind of turned it off and just quit concentrating,” Turgeon said. “That’s what this team does to me. But anytime you beat Missouri it’s a great win.”
Stefhon Hannah, the team’s leading scorer and the central figure in the nightclub altercation, was arrested for third-degree misdemeanor assault on Friday, his first trip to the campus since his jaw was broken. He was not on the bench as Missouri (13-11, 3-6) lost for the third time in four games since the incident.
Coach Mike Anderson said he spoke to Hannah’s mother and expects Hannah to resume classes on Monday, although he wasn’t sure if Hannah was in town. Hannah, who averages 14.7 points, remains suspended and his injury likely will sideline him for the rest of the season.
“At this point, the kid is hurting,” Anderson said. “I would think he would be in school. I think the most important thing about Stefhon is him being healthy.”
A second guard, Jason Horton, was arrested earlier on the same charge but was reinstated two games ago, although he lost his starting spot.
Leo Lyons, who served a one-game suspension, had a career-best 24 points off the bench for Missouri. Lyons scored 16 of his points in the last six minutes, helping the Tigers cut an 18-point deficit to seven in the final half-minute
Sloan was 6-for-8 from the field and 9-for-10 from the line overall, while Davis earned his second career double-double. Texas A&M was 3-for-5 from 3-point range in the second half, after going 1-for-10 in the first half.
Reserve Justin Safford added a career-best 10 points for the Tigers. J.T. Tiller, who averaged nearly 16 points the first three games after the suspensions, was held to five and got off only three shots.
Texas A&M shot only 39 percent in the first half and trailed 30-25 as Missouri shot 50 percent. The Aggies hit their stride after the break, hitting five of their first eight attempts in a 15-0 run for a 10-point cushion with about 15 minutes to go.
Missouri was outrebounded 10-1 during Texas A&M’s opening salvo, while missing its first five shots and committing two turnovers. Missouri has been outrebounded 90-50 in its last two games.
“That’s what’s really killing us right now,” Lawrence said. “Everybody is just throwing it up there and then getting second shots.”
Missouri had a 17-3 run over a seven-minute span of the first half, taking advantage of Texas A&M’s impatience in its half-court offense to go ahead 22-16 with 5:49 to go.