Missouri and Utah battled all afternoon. For every run Missouri tried to make, Utah had an answer, and for every run the Utes made, the Tigers had an answer, too. But when push came to shove, the Tigers had one final trump card, Kobe Brown.
Despite having just 4 points in the first half — foul trouble led to decreased minutes — Brown took over for the Tigers in the second half. With Utah missing their 7-foot starting center, Branden Carlson, Brown made his living in the paint. The Carlson-less Utes turned to fouling Brown, but his 11-13 mark from the charity stripe made him virtually unguardable. 23 second half points, including a stretch where he scored 12 straight for the Tigers, were just what the Tigers needed.
Even with his otherworldly performance, Brown remained as humble as usual after the game, saying, “Really my teammates. I don’t come out trying to play abnormal, I just play within what we do and try to make the most of it.”
Even with Brown’s superhuman performance, when the game was on the line another Tiger had to step up. With the Tigers leading 75-73 with 32 seconds to play, Utah just needed one stop to get a chance to send the game to overtime or win it, and it looked like they’d get that chance after a great defensive possession in which they refused to let Brown beat them. But Jarron “Boogie” Coleman had different plans. Coleman, who had missed the Tigers’ last two games for an undisclosed reason, got the ball at the top of the key, and before the shot clock could wind all the way down, buried a deep three to put the Tigers up 5.
From that point, the outcome of the game was down to the Tigers’ free throw shooting, and 5-6 down the stretch sealed the deal and a 83-75 Missouri win.
While Kobe Brown may have been the main story of the night, the Tigers needed a whole lot of Amari Davis before Brown took over. Davis, coming off the bench for the first time this season after a 0 point performance against Kansas, pled his case to get back in his starting role for Braggin Rights on Wednesday with a 17 point performance.
After the game, his backcourt mate Javon Pickett kept it simple when talking about Davis’s bounce back performance. “Midrange crazy,” he said.
Starting in place of Davis was freshman Anton Brookshire, and he was joined in the starting lineup by fellow freshman Trevon Brazile, who was replacing Ronnie DeGray III. Neither Brookshire or Brazile scored in the game, but when asked about the youthful change, Cuonzo Martin said, “I felt like they earned it in practice.”
Whether or not these changes will continue when the Tigers play Illinois on Wednesday is still to be determined, but this win might have been just what the Tigers needed to boost their before facing the Illini.