This afternoon, two teams of tigers took the floor in Columbia. Things were ugly on both sides early on but the second half proved that not all tigers are created equal. Holding a slim 23-20 edge over Tennessee State at the break, Missouri came out and dropped the hammer in the second half outscoring their opponent 45-18. As the 68-38 final score would suggest the TSU Tigers weren’t much of a match for Mizzou on this day. A win is a win, but it’s hard to be overly encouraged by the performance of the black and gold.
Yes Missouri won by 30 points but much of that stemmed from the fact Tennessee State simply could not hit a shot. Even in the first half when TSU kept it close they were just 8-27 (29.6%). In the second stanza the rim was even more unkind as they managed just seven makes on 36 attempts (19.4%). Four of their baskets were dunks or tip-ins and another two were three-pointers meaning for an entire half they made just a single, solitary jump shot.
While Tennessee State was missing shots at a percentage of ineptitude you will rarely see, Missouri continued their trend of being unable to put two halves of quality basketball together.
Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi were the stars of the night for Mizzou and both finished the game with double-doubles. Bowers scored 18 to go with ten boards while Oriakhi matched him on the glass and finished with 15 points. Fellow forward Stefan Jankovic came off the bench to pour in 14 points and pull down five rebounds in just 16 minutes of action. While the forwards were carrying the team, the guards were struggling. Phil Pressey and Earnest Ross combined to contribute six points on 1-10 shooting with five rebounds, four assists and three steals. It was the second time in the last three games that Pressey, who is still averaging 14.0 ppg, scored just five points in a game.
When a team shoots 23.8% from the floor for an entire game and scores a total of 38 points it’s generally safe to assume that quality individual efforts are tough to come by. Tennessee State’s Saturday performance lives up to that assumption. They were led by senior forward Robert Covington who scored twelve points on 5-18 from the floor. Hailing from Wichita, Kansas senior guard Jordan Cyphers was also in double digits with eleven points on 4-14 shooting. The two of them combined to account for 18 of the team’s 24 three-point attempts and five of the team’s six makes from beyond the arc.
Missouri (8-1) will have a nine day layoff before playing host to the MEAC’s South Carolina State Bulldogs (4-5) on the 17th. The Bulldogs are led by senior guard Khalif Toombs (15.5 ppg, 5.0 apg), junior guard Adama Adams (14.6 ppg) and 6’11″ junior forward Matthew Hezekiah (12.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg).
Tennessee State (4-6) will have eight days to ruminate on their latest shooting effort before hosting the Le Moyne-Owen Magicans.