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Missouri says goodbye to Damarea Crockett and hello to conference basketball

Here are today’s Mizzou links.

Damarea Crockett declares for NFL draft

For a few weeks now, Missouri fans have been awaiting word on whether or not a major offensive weapon will forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft. The explosive talent had a dominant freshman campaign, and while injuries have slowed his development, it’s still easy to see the immense amount of talent he possesses.

That paragraph was typed up with Albert Okwuegbunam in mind, but it just as cleanly fits with Damarea Crockett, who announced yesterday he’ll head off for greener pastures in the National Football League.

The news is a bit of a shocker — though Crockett’s Twitter account had become cryptic in the days following the Liberty Bowl. Crockett was the split starter with Larry Rountree and, if healthy, possessed a skill set that saw him top 1,000 yards in his freshman season.

However, there was probably not much of a benefit to him coming back to Missouri. Rountree will be back for his junior year, and it didn’t appear as if the Tigers wanted to move away from the tandem approach. Tyler Badie will also command more touches after a breakout freshman year, and Simi Bakare also impressed in limited time. Crockett seems to have the talent to get a shot in the NFL, and he might as well do it now and avoid further injuries in college ball.

So best of luck, Damarea! We’ll always be sad you didn’t get to beat up on your home state school, but we’ll never forget how fun it was to watch you power through defenses.

SEC play begins tonight

The Mizzou women have opened their conference play with convincing wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee, and tonight the men will get their turn when they host the Volunteers, who enter league play as the SEC’s clear front-runner.

The Vols come to Columbia on an eight-game winning streak, fresh off a 46-point victory over Georgia on Saturday. Junior Grant Williams is a triple-double threat and is having an All-American caliber season, while senior Admiral Schofield is right behind him. Forward Kyle Alexander will be a tough matchup for Jeremiah Tilmon in the post and MU “will need more than threes” to beat UT, according to Martin.

We’ve discussed how the Tigers could work themselves into the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, and a win against the Volunteers would be a great way to start. However, Tennessee is no longer the upstart it was last year. Helmed by several All-SEC caliber players and a deep roster, Rick Barnes’ team consistently rolls out lineups that outwork and outplay their opponents.

(Matt’s preview will be up later today.)

If the Tigers want to beat Tennessee, they’re going to have to outperform themselves on the offensive end of the floor, something they’ve struggled with so far this season. And Tennessee isn’t exactly the best matchup.

The Tigers are currently last in the SEC in scoring, averaging 69.1 points per game despite leading the conference in three-point shooting. Tennessee is ranked first, with 86.3 points per game.

There’s no reason to believe an upset couldn’t happen. If we know anything about Cuonzo Martin’s teams (and maybe this team, especially) it’s that they’re scrappy and won’t be intimidated by a buzzy opponent. But the Tigers will need all hands on deck — including Jeremiah Tilmon out of foul trouble — if they hope to notch a highlight win for their resume.

Yesterday at Rock M

More Links:

  • MORE VOLUNTEARS! Yesterday, former Tennessee hooper Michelle Brooke-Marciniak heroically took up her Sportsmanship Gatekeeper mantle to protect the sanctity of women’s basketball from the threat that is Missouri.