If you watched the final moments of Missouri’s 55-54 loss to No. 1 Auburn on Tuesday night, you’re probably wondering why MU, down 1, did not elect to foul on the final possession.
There were 35.4 seconds left in the game after Missouri senior guard Javon Pickett had drilled a three-pointer to put Missouri within one point. That left 5.4 seconds between the shot and game clocks.
So what was Cuonzo Martin’s plan on the defensive end?
“Let’s get the rebound and push the ball up the floor,” Martin said after the game. ”Let’s get stops. And then depending on who got the ball whether we foul — we didn’t want to foul Wendell (Green Jr.).”
Here’s how things went. Missouri allowed Green and Jabari Smith Jr. to dribble the ball, taking over 20 seconds off the clock. Then the ball went to K.D. Johnson. He drove into the paint and got off a shot. The shot did not drop, but Auburn got an offensive rebound. And then another.
At any point in that sequence — and especially so once the shot didn’t go in — Missouri could have fouled to send an Auburn player to the line. Even if it sent a player who was a solid shooter to the stripe, Missouri would have gotten a final possession with a deficit of three points at the very worst. At best, still just one point down.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 26, 2022
“You gotta block out,” Martin said. ”It was just certain people we didn’t want to foul. I wasn’t worried about them getting an offensive rebound.”
As such, Missouri never fouled. After Mizzou allowed multiple offensive rebounds, the ball rolled out of bounds and time expired, the chance of a massive upset gone in an instant.