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Missouri snaps SEC road losing streak with 3-point barrage

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Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

By now, you know how I feel about the 3-pointer. It’s the ultimate equalizer, especially at the college level. It also renders analysis pretty boring — did you make your 3s? Yes? You probably won! No? You probably lost!

Mizzou has shown that it doesn’t quite have a great grasp of what Plan B is this year when the 3s aren’t falling. But when they are ... well ... it’s pretty to watch.

Mizzou snapped a nearly four-calendar-year SEC road losing streak with what else but a 3-point barrage.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Mizzou Men’s Basketball (11-3, 1-0 SEC) used a barrage of three-pointers to fuel a 79-68 victory at South Carolina (9-5, 0-2 SEC) to open Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday. The Tigers sank 14 three-pointers in the win, their 10th time this season draining at least 10 three-pointers in a game.

Four Tigers scored in double-figures to lead the Tigers, led by senior guard Kassius Robertson (Toronto, Ontario), who recorded his third straight 20-point game with 23 points. Senior forward Jordan Barnett (St. Louis, Mo.) recorded his ninth-straight game in double-figures with 19 points, while freshman forward Jontay Porter (Columbia, Mo.) scored a season-best 19 points and junior guard Jordan Geist (Fort Wayne, Ind.) added 10 points.

This game was played on Frank Martin’s gross #Murderball terms — 48 fouls, 50 free throws, 21 offensive rebounds — but Missouri ...

a) responded reasonably well to that style

Toughness.

That’s what it would take to get out of South Carolina unscathed against Frank Martin’s Gamecocks, a roster that hardly resembles last year’s Final Four team but still plays with the same edge, especially at home.

“If you don’t have a level of toughness you won’t win this game,” Mizzou’s Martin told his team before Wednesday’s tip-off. “I thought our guys displayed that from start to finish.”

b) made like every damn 3-pointer it took in the first half.

Missouri (11-3, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) made nine threes in the first half. South Carolina (9-5, 0-2) made just nine total field goals in the half.

With about 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half and the Tigers up 21-19, Barnett hit his third three of the night. Porter hit two soon after. Those shots spurred a 15-2 run.

Oh yeah, and c) got a great game from Jontay Porter.

Jontay Porter was in the eighth grade the last time Missouri won a Southeastern Conference road game.

He didn’t know about the losing streak until junior forward Kevin Puryear, a longtime Missouri fan, walked into the locker room and told him about it. [...]

“I’m glad to get that streak over with and build new streaks,” said Porter, who scored a career-high 19 points.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at South Carolina
Jontay Porter
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou’s ball-handling numbers weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible either, and Jordan Geist was a major reason why.

Junior Jordan Geist started over freshman Blake Harris, who missed four practices over break because of the flu. Geist, who has struggled with turnovers this season, gave the ball up just once and finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

Murderball is everything I often hate about college basketball distilled to its essence. But everything’s more fun when you win. Mizzou’s 1-0 in conference play for the first time since 2013 and has hopped up to 43rd in the KenPom rankings, the Tigers’ highest placement since basically this time four years ago, I believe. I’ll take it.


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