The end of the tunnel may not be very well lit - if it’s even lit at all - but we’ve just about reached it. Later tonight, Mizzou men’s basketball will face off against Texas A&M in the Tigers’ final home game of the season. Afterwards, we will close the book on what has been an egregiously difficult season to watch. Time well tell just how many other books will be closed thereafter.
Missouri basketball coach Kim Anderson knows Tuesday’s game against Texas A&M will be the final home game for senior Russell Woods, but could it be Anderson’s Mizzou Arena farewell, too? Asked Monday if he’s thought about that possibility, the third-year coach took a swig of water.
“No, not really,” he said. “I haven’t. I’ve tried to continue to keep my focus. We talked to our guys a few weeks ago when we saw obviously we weren’t going to win the league or go to the NCAA Tournament or whatever goals you always set for your team, to just take one game at a time and try to treat that like it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals or World Series or whatever that is and don’t look ahead and don’t look behind. I haven’t really given it much thought.”
Missouri played Texas A&M within three points on Feb. 8 in College Station, Texas. According to kenpom.com, the Tigers have a 38 percent to turn the result around, forecasting a four-point win for the Aggies. That’s basically a toss-up. For third-year coach Kim Anderson’s crew to pull out the win (and snap a four-game losing streak), Mizzou needs to contain freshman Robert Williams better. He scored 18 points with 16 rebounds, including six offensive boards during a 76-73 win earlier this month.
One of the keys for Missouri will be the continuance of Jordan Barnett’s hot shooting stretch. The junior forward has scored in double figures in six of the past seven games, including a season-high 23-point game against Texas A&M.
Frankie Hughes, whose 22-point breakout performance against Ole Miss nearly sparked a comeback win on the road, will aim to finish his freshman campaign strong. After being held to single digits in scoring in every game since Dec. 10 against Arizona, Hughes poured in five 3-pointers in the narrow loss to the Rebels.
"I think his confidence has just been so low for a while," Anderson said. "He's become a better practice player, a more complete player."
Senior forward Russell Woods and redshirt junior Trevor Glassman will be honored during the Senior Night festivities prior to the game. Regardless of what standing you hold the team in, these two players have put in a body of work worthy of recognition.
Both transfers who have worked to make the most of their time as Tigers, Woods and Glassman are both in their second seasons at Mizzou. Woods played two seasons at John A. Logan, a junior college in Carterville, Illinois, before joining the Tigers as a junior last season. Glassman originally walked-on at Manhattan College before transferring to Mizzou before the 2015-16 campaign.
Sophomore forward Kevin Puryear called Woods “a bright light” in MU’s locker room and “a joy to be around,” while freshman Reed Nikko praised the leadership he’s shown.
“I’ve learned a ton,” Nikko said. “He’s kind of taken me under his wing since I’ve been here. … It’s huge, especially for me and (fellow freshman) Mitch Smith. He’s taught us a lot about playing in the SEC, playing at a high level and has been extremely helpful for both of us.”
Here’s hoping those young men can bring Woods, Glassman, and their beleaguered fans a win to close out the home slate.
- If Mizzou does end up making a move for a new basketball coach, these folks that Sam Snelling lists are definitely, 100 percent going to be serious candidates for the job.
- The Post-Dispatch indulges in a little schadenfreude at Mack Rhoades’ expense. You’re welcome to join them, if you so choose.
- Mizzou women’s basketball is movin’ on up the polls! (a single spot, but let’s not get hung up on the specifics here)
- He may not be having an All-Star caliber season, but apparently Jordan Clarkson has still played well enough to be brought up in “nearly every call the Lakers took leading up to the [NBA trade] deadline.” Los Angeles reportedly likes what they have in Clarkson, though.
The Lakers made it clear that they were not looking to move any of their young players. This final stretch of the season will be used to evaluate the talent on their roster and figure out who is worth keeping around for the future. Clarkson is definitely one of the players the Lakers have high hopes for.
- Speaking of professional teams and their interest in holding onto former Mizzou players - the Charlotte Observer has reported that even though the Panthers are making moves to solidify their defensive line, they remain hopeful about Kony Ealy’s future on the team.
“He’s got unbelievable talents,” Addison said during a conference call Sunday evening. “I work with the guy everyday. Once Kony gets it in his head that he’s unstoppable, then he’s going to be unstoppable. The guy’s a freak.”
I would have to agree, folks.