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SALT LAKE CITY — It was a game of attrition Saturday afternoon.
Locked in a tight battle, with neither team shooting particularly well or able to pull away by more than 5 points, Missouri's Jarron Coleman hit a clutch 3-pointer with less than a minute left to play to give the Tigers a 5-point lead and eventually a 83-75 win over a visiting Utah team with a week off before the game.
Coleman finished with only 8 points, but his second 3-pointer of the game did enough to give Missouri its largest lead of the game. Missouri has not been a great 3-point shooting team this season and had only two made 3-pointers on the night, but the final two shots made were enough.
"Congrats to Missouri on a good win," Utah head coach Craig Smith said. "We knew it was going to be difficult to come in here to beat an SEC opponent in a true road game, and really proud of how hard we played. I'm not sure we executed exactly how we wanted on either side of the ball, but thought we competed hard."
The Tigers had three players in double figures and were led by Kobe Brown's 27 points, which included going a 11 of 13 from the free throw line. Brown was unstoppable late in the game and had 12 straight points for a Tigers team that struggled to hit shots until he got hot and the team finished shooting 44% from the field.
Amari Davis finished with 17 points and five rebounds and Ronnie DeGray III added 10 points and six rebounds in the win for the Tigers.
It was not a prototypical loss for the Utes, who were forced to utilize a small-ball unit with the team's leading scorer Branden Carlson out as a result of health and safety protocols. The situation got worse when Riley Battin picked up his fourth foul with just over 13 minutes left in the game, leaving Utah few options with Dusan Mahorcic also out due to injury.
Battin later fouled out and the options remained limited for the Utes down the stretch as Missouri pulled away for the win.
"Basketball is a beautiful game, right? There's a lot of ways to win, but obviously it's a rhythm game and timing game," Smith said. "We had to try to do some different things and get it on the fly, kind of have a feel for what's going on out there and who's playing well and who's struggling and see what we can do."
But the five-guard unit worked just enough as Marco Anthony and David Jenkins Jr. controlled the floor and hit shots to slowly pull away from Missouri. Jenkins finished with a team-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting and Anthony added 16 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
Utah head coach Craig Smith had Lahat Thioune as an option — he played 14 minutes a week after scoring a career high — but decided to stick with a five-guard lineup, and eventually Battin, to combat the Tigers.
Jenkins provided a quick spark off the bench to open up the game for the Utes. On Jenkins' first two shot attempts, he hit two 3-pointers to give the Utes a lead and some breathing room.
The senior guard, who has been in a bit of shooting slump as of late and has come off the bench for the second-straight game, hit his third triple of the first half midway through the game to give the Utes the largest lead of the half, 29-25.
Utah looked to pull away from a Missouri team that shot only 37% from the field in the first half, including multiple scoring droughts, but the Utes had trouble of their own. In a span of five minutes, Utah committed five of the team's nine first-half turnovers and closed out the half making only one field goal in its last eight attempts.
Fortunately for the Utes, the Tigers were worse and made only one basket in their last nine field goal attempts to closeout the half as Utah held a 33-32 lead at halftime.
But for all the first-half deficiencies, Missouri made up for it late in the game and outrebounded Utah 41-33 and outscored the Utes in the post, 38-16.