Longhorns Corral Gardner
Yet the Big-12’s leading scorer was unable to exert his offensive will on a stingy Longhorn defense. The normally prolific Gardner was held scoreless for the opening nineteen minutes of the game, finishing the first half with only three points.
“My shots were kind of rushed and I really didn't set my feet to get it going. It got tougher and tougher as the game went on," said Gardner.
The junior shooting guard's relative scoring woes continued in the second half, finishing the game with fifteen points. Gardner was off-target on seven three-pointers and shot 31% from the field. Gardner came into the contest shooting 42% from long-range and 44% overall.
While Gardner attributes his poor performance on himself, the Longhorns undoubtedly came to Mizzou Arena prepared to cover the Tigers’ offensive juggernaut.
"He can really shoot the ball and he can get his own shots, so we knew we were going to have to team up and try to switch off on everybody,” said Texas forward P.J. Tucker. "He wasn't that hot in the beginning, but he got a couple shots in the end. I think we did a pretty good job on him."
Gardner welcomes the arduous challenge of carrying the Mizzou offense, but the scoring burden makes an off-night even more grueling. When Gardner scores fifteen points or less, the Tigers are 0-4.
"It's kinda heavy on me when I don't perform well, because I feel as a team leader I let my team down.” Gardner continued, “I felt like I wasn't performing as well as I could and it was hurting my team, but [my teammates] did a great job at keeping the game close.”
Unfortunately for Gardner, the Tigers' supporting cast wasn't able to keep the game close enough. The loss was the fourth in a row for head coach Quin Snyder's crew. If the Mizzou cagers are going to climb out of their current slump, the first opportunity will come against a team with comparable struggles. Mizzou travels to Texas Tech (11-10, 3-4) for a 12:30 p.m. tipoff on Saturday. In the Red Raiders' last outing, the Kansas Jayhawks overwhelmed Bobby Knight’s squad 86-52.