By Austin Wright
Mizzou clipped the wings of the high-flying Eagles of Morehead State Wednesday night as they won 70-52 in front of an energized crowd at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers came into the matchup 3-1 after winning 75-56 against a pesky Wofford team. To start the first half, Mizzou got the scoring going inside with Kobe Brown and Nikko Reed, with Mario McKinney driving it in the paint as well. The Tigers were able to draw fouls early to get them at the charity stripe and converted 82% of the free throws attempted. What stood out the most in the first half was the inability of the Tigers to make a three-pointer, shooting just 14% from beyond the arc.
Speaking on the three-point woes after the game, Cuonzo Martin said: “I think in the first half, some not all were good looks from three. For the most part in the first half, I thought they were easy threes meaning you settle for that shot.”
Mizzou gave up some easy chances for the Eagles to score, allowing them to keep the game close even to lead three times during the first half.
One positive takeaway from the first bit of action was Mark Smith’s ability to score inside and get hot from outside.
Speaking on how the team and himself should find better outside shots, Smith said: “Coach said shoot three’s you’re your feet are set, and you know I thought guys started to do that.”
Smith scored eight points for the Tigers, going perfect from the field and shooting 100%, helping them maintain a 10-point lead going into halftime where Cuonzo Martin surely had a thing or two to say regarding the Tigers’ poor shooting from outside. Even though Mizzou did not have high percentages during the first half, the team’s tenacious ability to get to the glass and secure 22 rebounds allowed them to get more chances on offense to stay ahead of a feisty Morehead State squad.
In the second half of play, the Tigers had a smoother path to convert shots as they went 46% from the field, 25% from three and 86% from the free-throw line. There were more opportunities for the Tigers to control the pace of the game as they had 23 rebounds compared to Morehead State’s 14. Another interesting component in Mizzou’s game was the lack of production from Junior Forward Jeremiah Tilmon Jr. In previous games this season, Tilmon Jr. proved that he was a force to be reckoned with in the paint on offense and defense. Tonight, however, he only had five points to go along with four rebounds and one assist on 29% shooting from the field.
Another moment to look back on from the game was a fall from Xavier Pinson that kept him on the floor for a couple of minutes after trying to make a play on the ball on defense. When asked about how Pinson is doing, Cuonzo Martin said, “He wanted to come out [to the press conference]. I know he is back with the doctors, so I’m not sure [how he is doing], but I mean, he walked off.”
This will be an intriguing development to keep up, with since Mizzou has a high-profile Thanksgiving tournament with the Hall of Fame Classic coming up next week, beginning with Butler. The Tigers tip-off against the Bulldogs at 6 p.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, where they will face another significant early-season test.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org