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Men’s basketball gives fans reason to hope for the future

Here are today’s Mizzou Links

Geist’s heroics spark OT win, highlight reasons for hope

During the 2017-2018 basketball season, we talked a lot about the weight of expectations, and how we’d look back on a team that lost Michael Porter Jr. before he could play any meaningful minutes. There’s been less of such talk this year, but the previous sentence could still act as a sort of sad Mad Libs for Missouri fans: “We talked a lot about the weight of expectations, and how we’d look back on a team that lost Jontay Porter before he could play any meaningful minutes.”

Instead we’ve spent extensive time talking about rebuilding, and why it’s OK for Cuonzo Martin to get back to basics. And while it can be hard for fans to take away many positives during seasons like this, any moment like Sunday’s game against Central Florida will do.

The odds of a win appeared even slimmer as Geist caught an inbound pass with seven seconds remaining and held the ball for about four of those seconds, looking for teammate Mark Smith to come open. Smith never did, and it became clear that, like a few times last season, Geist would be forced to take the final shot.

Geist said he still thinks about those disappointing moments. That’s why Sunday, when he took a few quick dribbles, jumped, hung in the air, repositioned the ball so it wouldn’t be blocked, and let loose a perfect swish, Geist said he “couldn’t even describe” his emotions.

Forde’s description of the final seconds of regulation — click the link and read the full story; it’s quite good — do a wonderful job echoing all the feelings I had. The way the game was wrapping felt repetitive and frustrating. But the resolution? That was much, much better.

This season is sure to feature a few meltdowns like we saw in Iowa State or Kansas State. We’ll also probably see some white-knuckle wins like Kennesaw State. But Sunday’s toppling of a good UCF team shows that we’ll also be treated to some glimpses of the future — when the teams on the floor are less volatile and the ups and downs of a full season are less pronounced.

Mizzou → Memphis

There’s a time and place to debate the merits of Missouri’s bowl placement — the Liberty Bowl against a highly familiar opponent — and that place is in the comments section! For now, though Jim Stern wants Tiger fans to know that Memphis is an attractive destination, one that Missouri should travel well too.

“We really need to have a great showing. It’s important for the bowls to see that Mizzou shows up for postseason,” Sterk said. “That’s part of the decision as bowls make decisions on who they’d like to see. That’s one of the reasons the Liberty Bowl really wanted us to come because they think we could bring a great contingent there.”

Comments like this make me see how the Liberty Bowl could be a positive step for the future of the program. Say Missouri fans show out to Memphis and the Tigers put a hurting on the Cowboys. Bowl committees in the future likely are more confident that the Tiger fan base will open up their wallets for tickets and travel.

But if Tiger fans don’t travel well? That could lead to more “disappointing” placements like this in the future. So do your part and support Missouri in the Liberty Bowl! At the very least, it will give the Tigers the opportunity to show up Mullet Mike on a national stage.

We’ll have more coverage of the upcoming bowl game throughout the month of December!

Yesterday at Rock M

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After entering Sunday’s contest averaging 85.8 points, the Mountaineers were held to a season-low 51 points. The Tigers were able to hold West Virginia to season-low shooting numbers from the field and three-point range, as the Mountaineers shot 27.9 percent from the field (17-for-61) and 27.8 percent from three (5-for-18).

Robin Pingeton’s knock-down-drag-out defensive style wins again!

Also, Amber Smith is a legend — 28 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals. Imagine next year’s team, even without Cunningham — Smith, Jordan Chavis, Hannah Schuchts, Akira Levy, Grace Berg, Aijha Blackwell and Hayley Frank. That’s a loaded first seven without even considering the many other contributors on this team.

  • The news wasn’t as good for the Missouri volleyball team, whose season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Congratulations on another amazing season, y’all! It feels good to know you’ll be back again next year.

  • #TigerStyle finished second at the Cliff Keen Invitational. Only second-ranked Ohio State finished with more team points.