Green Bay (3-5) guard Khalil Small celebrated with his team as he made his way to the bench following a timeout. He’d just drained a jumper to cap off a 13-4 Phoenix start.
Missouri (8-2) turned the ball over twice in the first two minutes, and quickly found itself in a hole. But then the Tigers caught fire.
Mizzou outscored Green Bay by 29 points over the next 17 minutes to take a 20-point lead into halftime, and cruised the rest of the way to a 100-77 win. Jordan Geist scored a career-best 28 points on 11 for 14 shooting.
“I think he’s doing a much better job of picking his spots,” Jordan Barnett said when asked about Geist. “Last year I think at times he would force shots. I think it all manifested tonight. He was unguardable essentially, he had 28, he was that fire that we needed to really get going.”
Barnett continued his recent strong play with 19 points and Jeremiah Tilmon had a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double.
The Tigers struggled defensively all night, but that doesn’t matter when you shoot 53 percent and hit 14 threes. Grabbing 15 offensive rebounds doesn’t hurt, either.
Tilmon was a huge part of that, securing seven offensive rebounds on his own and fouling only twice. “I thought he was aggressive,” Cuonzo Martin said. “I always try to tell him it’s not a wrestling match, it’s still basketball.”
“I just felt like I was being immature,” Tilmon said as he reflected on his foul troubles in the first five games. “So I just had to grow up. I was too busy worrying about people scoring on me. I didn’t want to get scored on so if they had the bucket I’d just foul them.”
After a sloppy showing against Miami (Ohio), Missouri had a much better showing handling the basketball. The Tigers turned the ball over only eight times and racked up 15 assists.
“I wish I could say ‘This is what happened,’ because the next game it could be right back where it started,” Martin said with a laugh. “We just took care of the ball.”
The highlight of the first half offensive explosion was a five minute stretch in which Missouri made 10 consecutive field goals. If you blinked, you might have missed Mizzou running away with the game.
Jontay Porter and Barnett sparked the scoring with back to back threes to cut the deficit to five. Kevin Puryear tied things up at 21 a few minutes later with a short jumper.
Tilmon scored on a nice hook shot before Geist and Barnett took turns making 3’s in what was a 12-0 run. Geist and Barnett each made another long-ball before a Kassius Robertson layup pushed the lead to 37-27.
Geist went on to score 10 more points in about seven minutes to finish the first half with 18. Barnett matched a career-high of his own with five triples.
A five-minute Tiger scoring drought and 8-0 Green Bay run allowed the Phoenix to cut the Tigers’ advantage down to 15 early in the second half.
Tilmon scored a layup and Barnett posterized a defender under the rim. Geist got in on the action with a fast break rim-grazing dunk to set his new career-high and put the game away.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Geist said when asked if it was a real dunk. Barnett couldn’t hold back his laughter as his teammate goaded him into agreeing. “I’ll give it to him. It’s arguable, but I’ll give it to him.” Barnett said.
With the victory, Missouri has already matched its win total from last year. “I was aware of it, but it doesn’t mean anything,” Martin said. “It’s just eight wins. That’s all, still plenty of work to get done.”
The Tigers have the week off for finals before they play North Florida at 7:30 p.m. on December 16.