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MIZ-ZOOM: All Eyes on Sharife

Mizzou assistant Chris Hollender and a few players discuss the difficulty of their next matchup against Auburn on Tuesday

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

After pulling off their biggest win of the season in a year that has been full of them, the Tigers now set their sights on the Auburn Tigers.

The opposing Tigers may be just 9-7, however, they’ve won three of their last four games with the only loss in a nailbiter against a talented Arkansas team. The sudden uptick in performance from this Auburn team can be pinpointed to one person— Sharife Cooper.

Since being deemed eligible by the NCAA, the 5-Star Freshman PG has put on an absolute show. Currently, he is averaging 21.2 PPG and 9.0 APG. Those ridiculous numbers have garnered the eyes of the Mizzou coaches and players alike as they all know that Sharife is priority number one defensively.

“He controls the game... He starts the play and makes people better around him, or he will just finish the play himself,” said Mizzou assistant coach Chris Hollender. Mitchell Smith emphasized just how dangerous Cooper can be. “The way he controls the game, he can change speeds really well… he’s a great passer with both hands.”

If the Tigers are going to win this game, they’ll need a great team defensive performance. One player who’s really been successful in recent games on that side of the ball has been Kobe Brown. Although his scoring numbers aren’t off the charts, the sophomore wing has made key plays to help secure recent Tiger wins. When asked about Kobe’s performance, Coach Hollender reiterated the importance of the little things Brown does. “He’s finding different ways to impact the game,” he said. “His effort to do things without the basketball, specifically on energy and effort plays… he’s impacting the game in different ways and embracing being a big physical presence for us.”

When informed of Hollender’s compliments, Brown stayed humble as always. “I just look to do whatever the team needs from me to win,” he said. “I’m not really looking for a lot of accolades. As long as we are winning and continue winning, that’s what I want.”

Winning is something the Tigers have certainly been doing a lot this year, so Kobe is surely happy. However, wins can sometimes lead to an inflated ego, but Coach Hollender assured the media that this Tigers team would not rest on the laurels of their victory over Tennessee on Saturday. “I don’t think our guys get hung up on that,” he said. “They’re walking around with blinders on.”