(Photo by Dak Dillion/USA Today Sports)
The Missouri Tigers crushed the Missouri Western Griffons 92-53 in an exhibition matchup on Friday night. Freshman guard K.J. Walton lead all scorers with 17 points, and the Tigers clicked on all cylinders for pretty much the entire night.
It wouldn’t be Missouri Tigers basketball if there wasn’t some controversy even before the first tip-off. Sophomores Namon Wright and D’Angelo Allen did not dress as they were suspended for a violation of team rules.
Before we get into the game, I’d just like to point out that these violation of team rules can’t happen if this team wants to improve at all this year. These violations were committed too many times by too many players last year, and as a result, the chemistry on the court never gelled and it just makes for bad news.
Wright was thought to be the leading scorer on this years’ ball club and Allen started a lot of games last year and impressed with his energy. Not a very good start for experienced guys who have already been suspended before, and are being counted on to take the next step in their game.
It’s not like their services were required tonight anyway as this was never a contest.
As far as an actual game recap, it’s not really necessary given the competition they played tonight and the fact that it won’t count in the standings. There is one big to take away however.
The newcomers looked very good.
The aforementioned Walton was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field including four 3-pointers. Kevin Puryear didn’t record a field goal, but grabbed seven rebounds and to the line four times.
Terrence Phillips is already a lot of fans’ favorite play without a doubt. I was very impressed with his energy all throughout the game, especially on the defensive end and had several steals during the game.
Cullen VanLeer got off to a shaky start by missing his first two 3-pointers, but caught fire early in the second half. He finished with eight points and shot the ball very well, including pulling up from three in transition.
Down-low, JUCO transfer Russell Woods made his first six shots and finished with 13 points. He played with relentless energy all night, and fought for five rebounds. His teammate in JUCO, Martavian Payne finished with eight points on 2-for-4 shooting.
As far as the returnees go, Wes Clark looked healthy and played effective. Phillips played as the point guard, and that allowed Clark to play off the ball. He had 10 points and had a couple of really nice passes.
Ryan Rosburg had a really nice move in the post that lead to an easy bucket, and had a good block. He had six points, but more importantly made both of his free throws, he didn’t do that a whole lot last year.
Tramaine Isabell was mysteriously absent for most of the first half and went in after walk-on Jimmy Barton. After being held scoreless the first half, he caught fire in the second and scored 16 points.
The only one who didn’t look that great was Jakeenan Gant and he was held to three points on 1-for-7 shooting. He, in my opinion, took way too many jumpshots for an athletic 6-foot-8 power forward. Though it is something he was working on, but it’s obviously still a work in progress.
Yeah just about everyone looked good, but it was against Missouri Western, a Division II team. No one is expecting this against Arkansas, Tennessee or even Wofford next Friday.
There are positives to take away from this however. For one, it’s a game-like experience for a six newcomers to college basketball, and they all played well. The Tigers played with energy on both sides of the floor, and that lead to efficient offense and forced turnovers on defense.
Most importantly, it looked like they were having fun. Winning games are fun, and hopefully Kim Anderson and the team cherished the feeling and will continue to chase it everyday in practice.
It’s one game that doesn’t even count, but this team should feel encouraged with how they played.
In my opinion the biggest game of the year is next Friday against Wofford. They were a tournament team last year, and probably should be the favorites. It is a winnable game in Mizzou Arena though.
Win that game and it sets the tone that they’re going to play competitive basketball all year.
Lose that game and we may see some demons from last year: sulking, non-competitiveness, and constantly in trouble off the court.
There are some talented guys on this roster, tonight it looked like they played as one. Will that continue?