Missouri Tigers open conference play at South Carolina

COLUMBIA, MO - DECEMBER 05: Jeremiah Tilmon
COLUMBIA, MO - DECEMBER 05: Jeremiah Tilmon /

While the Michael Porter, Jr. “will he or won’t he return” saga continues, the Missouri Tigers begin their SEC schedule tonight at South Carolina.

The Missouri Tigers have at least one thing they have been missing the last few seasons: A 10-3 record. The Tigers have struggled, at times, against better opponents, but have played well against lesser opponents.

Missouri’s struggles are to be expected, given the youth on the team. However, there have been a number of times when, despite the team’s youth, we’ve been able to get a glimpse of what this team will resemble next year, and it’s downright scary (good).

That’s not to say Mizzou can’t improve as this season progresses, but after a full year under their belt, the Tigers look to be in great shape when the 2018-19 season rolls around.

Missouri Tigers Basketball
Missouri Tigers Basketball /

Missouri Tigers Basketball

I digress. Right now, the Tigers are in the midst of a successful season, and South Carolina, coming off of a national championship run, currently owns an 8-5 record on a two-game win streak.

While Missouri is two game better than the Gamecocks, South Carolina shouldn’t be overlooked. At this point in Missouri’s season, however, the Tigers are still looking to hit their stride.

The interesting point in tonight’s game, is the Tigers haven’t played in 11 days. How will Mizzou look returning from an extended break from action?

In an interview with Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post, head coach Cuonzo Martin spoke favorably in regard to his team having the time off to spend with family.

"That’s the one time of year kids need to be with their family and away from (basketball) … because you don’t get these days back when it’s all said and done. We can make games up, but you can’t make these days up, time with your family."

When it comes to basketball, long breaks between games aren’t the norm. The last time Martin had as long a break, he was coaching high school players.

What’s refreshing, is Martin seems content, if not comfortable, with his team’s chance to spend time with family over their break. Certainly, he doesn’t make the schedule, but on the outside at least, he seemed prepared to get the team back to work once they returned.

Tonight’s game will test the Tigers’ mettle and preparedness, coming off a loss to Illinois in the “Braggin’ Rights” game. What’s more, Missouri’s first few conference games are against decent opponents.

At the very least, Missouri will make this game exciting, but I feel like the Tigers could pull off the win. I’m not going to make a prediction, but I anticipate a favorable showing by the Tigers.