The Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team played their first home SEC game of the season against a Tennessee team that lost their top player due to injury. Despite forcing 21 turnovers, Missouri fell to the Volunteers 69-59.
It seems as if this young Missouri Tigers squad hasn’t quite finished going through their growing pains. Despite starting well in their first two conference games, Mizzou couldn’t hang on to win either. The lack of an elite scorer continues to plague the squad in Columbia.
While the contest against Tennessee was a better team performance than the game before at Kentucky, there are still duds to go along with some new studs.
Stud #1: Tray Jackson
Freshman Tray Jackson hasn’t had consistent minutes this season, but that might change after his game against the Volunteers.
In just nine minutes, Jackson put up a team-high 11 points and three rebounds on 3-of-5 shooting, including connecting on the only 3-pointer he attempted.
His scoring could increase his minutes instantly. Jackson played with the ball in his hands a lot in high school and if he can tap in to that scoring prowess again, Mizzou will be a much better basketball team.
Stud #2: Mitchell Smith
Mitchell Smith has been on the team for a few years and is finally in the starting lineup. His hustle and competitiveness drives this team. There were multiple times against Tennessee that Smith’s hustle and grit energized the entire arena.
Outside of that, Smith scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds while making two of his three 3-point attempts. He is technically sound and plays hard with a 6’10” 221lb frame.
Coach Cuonzo Martin has messed around with a few different starting lineups, but Smith should stick around if he keeps up this play.
Stud #3: Reed Nikko
Reed Nikko didn’t have a stellar performance, but with Jeremiah Tilmon out injured, he did enough. It was a massive improvement from the Kentucky game. Against the Vols, Nikko played solid defense and found the rights spots on offense.
Most importantly, he wasn’t in foul trouble when Mizzou was low on front-court depth.
His six points and three rebounds aren’t great but they aren’t bad. He did his job and filled his role without making too many mistakes.