Dru Smith’s late heroics lift Mizzou over Florida for road win


Mizzou guard Dru Smith (12).
Mizzou Tigers vs. Florida Gators at Exactech Arena in Gainesville, FL. on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
Zach Bland/Mizzou Athletics

The Missouri men’s basketball team, playing for the first time since February 23 after COVID issues with the Texas A&M program postponed what would have been Senior Night, got a max effort out of the senior class for a 72-70 road win at Florida Wednesday night.

Senior guard Dru Smith’s reverse layup in traffic put the Tigers on top with less than a second remaining for the game-winner and two of his team-high 17 points.

The Tigers built a 10 point lead early in the second half behind an offensive rebounding edge and balanced scoring that saw five Tigers in double-digits.

Dru Smith said afterward that during the team’s layoff, which came off a stretch where the Tigers lost four of five, the team worked a lot on late game scenarios, and :45 second games. That likely came in handy Wednesday as the Gators made a late run to tie the game at 70 inside the last minute of the game.

Then came the last time out where Head Coach Cuonzo Martin called Dru Smith’s number.

“That’s Dru Smith,” Mitchell Smith said. “We ran the play exactly as Coach wanted.

“We’re just trying to play good basketball down the stretch, that’s it,” Dru Smith said.

“We weren’t bad,” Martin said of the string of games where the Tigers lost 4 of 5 while Jeremiah Tilmon took a leave of absence after his grandmother’s death, and Missouri fell out of the Top 25. “It wasn’t like it was four or five glaring things we can’t do anything about….let’s correct what we need to correct and be the team we need to be.”

Missouri hosts LSU Saturday ahead of next week’s SEC postseason tournament in Nashville.

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