Torrence Watson’s jumper smashed off the back iron and high into the air. Missouri’s Reed Nikko and Ole Miss’ Khadim Sy rose for the rebound. Neither got anywhere close.
That’s because the ball was snatched out of the air by a flying Parker Braun, who posterized Sy for a stunning put-back dunk.
The crowd went crazy as Missouri took a… oh… wait… WHAT?!?!?
Yes, the basket was actually waved off. That part sucked. By wow, was it a fantastic poster. Questionable officiating aside (really trying to be nice there), Parker Braun appears to have earned Cuonzo Martin’s trust.
So much so that the redshirt freshman played a career-high in minutes Tuesday against the Rebels. Tiger fans have seen flashes of Braun’s hops, with a handful of flashy dunks on the highlight reel from this past season and high school.
One of the biggest reasons Braun has not been a major presence in the Tiger lineup has been his inability to match up against the size of SEC forwards. That was not the case on Tuesday. Not even close.
Braun did score six points, including a dunk that did count, but he made his presence known defensively. He snatched seven rebounds, and recorded four thunderous blocks that got the crowd on its feet.
“I feel like he gave us a lot of grit and aggressiveness,” Pinson said. “He was trying to get every rebound, whether it was on defense or offense.”
So far during conference play, the Tigers have watched as two freshmen, Tray Jackson and Parker Braun, have developed into useful pieces in the lineup. That certainly bodes well for the program, both in the short and long term.
For his efforts, Braun stayed out on the court for long stretches of time, recording a career high 24 minutes, including crucial minutes down the stretch in both the first and second halves.
“One, I’m not surprised (that Braun got more minutes),” Cuonzo Martin said after the game. “Parker’s one of those guys who will be as good as the time and the focus he puts into it, because he’s gifted in a lot of areas. I think with added strength, he’ll go to another level.”
He made plays defensively all night, but one of his most crucial came on offense with time winding down and Ole Miss knocking on the door.
With 2:20 left, Braun cleanly received a pass from Javon Pickett in traffic under the basket and calmly laid it in to give Missouri a 63-61 lead. Missouri would be tested fiercely by Breein Tyree and Ole Miss, but held on to win Tuesday night, 71-68.
“I’ll try to do anything I can to get wins,” Braun said. “Whatever he (Martin) asks me to do I’ll go out there and do it.”
If Braun and the other freshmen’s development continue, they will be able to provide crucial depth for the Missouri front court for the long term. Now, let’s all go back and watch the put back dunk one more time.