After notching a Top 25 win over Oregon this week, Wichita State provided another early test for the Tigers this season, this time on the road in Kansas (though perhaps not the Kansas game we wanted, unfortunately).
Missouri played well early. They came out the gates hot from inside the three-point line, converting five out of their first seven shots. That gave them a quick 10 points. The Shockers struggled offensively through the first six minutes, with Missouri forcing three turnovers.
Headed into the second TV timeout, the Tigers had a 15-4 lead. Missouri demonstrated their ability to lockdown defenders and get rebounds, they also showed patience in shot selection on offense. Jeremiah Tilmon jumped out to a good start; he had 5 points and 4 boards not even halfway through the first half.
After a four and a half minute period when the Tigers held the Shockers scoreless, the Shockers responded. Clarence Jackson and Alterique Gilbert cut the Tiger’s lead to one possession at one point.
The Tigers let the Shockers stick around in the first half in part due to the fact they had 7 first half turnovers, which ties the amount of turnovers for the entire game against Oregon. The first half was a bit of a clunker, as the Tigers scored 18 of their first 20 points from inside the paint, and both teams combined to go 0-12 from beyond the arc during the first half.
After Mark Smith finally hit the Tigers’ first three late in the first half, Parker Braun and Dru Smith added threes of their own. Gilbert hit two threes of his own to answer, keeping the Shockers in the conversation. Gilbert was a problem in the first half, pouring in 12 points before the break. He led all scorers through the first 20 minutes.
During halftime, Cuonzo Martin said the message to his team at the half was to relax.
“It’s simply basketball. Just calm down and let’s play,” Martin said.
In the second half, Missouri continued to play with a lead despite a sloppy first couple of the minutes from both teams.
Similar to the first half, the Shockers suffered early. Missouri’s halftime lead of four quickly grew to sixteen thanks to the Shockers going cold. The Tigers never turned the ball over during a 21-8 run to start the half, and Missouri managed to keep a double-digit lead thanks to Mark Smith, Dru Smith and Kobe Brown all putting up over 10 points. Both Mark Smith and Brown alluded to the team’s depth after the game.
“I feel like we have a lot of good guards this year”, Smith, who led all scorers with 19 points, said. “I feel like we’ve been doing our job perfectly and that’s why we’re getting wins.”
“We’re deep as a team”, Brown added. “Everyone on this team can play.”
As the game wound toward the finish, the Shockers cut the lead to 10 with just under three minutes to go. Five second half three-point field goals kept them in the game just barely, but the Tigers didn’t let the game slip away.
Missouri closed out the ballgame with a commanding lead. Though the Shockers cut the lead going into the break, Missouri proved that they were the better team in the second.
The Tigers walked out with a 72-62 victory, pushing their record to 3-0 on the season.
Following the game, Coach Martin said that his team got passive in the last six minutes of the first half, but that was the only stretch he thought they didn’t play well.
“I feel good, I don’t take these wins for granted”, Martin said.
Mizzou will return to Mizzou Arena on Wednesday to face the Liberty Flames.