The Missouri Tigers are still undefeated.
Facing Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent Mississippi Valley State, Mizzou struggled to overcome the Delta Devils early on, but prevailed in a 83-62 victory. The Tigers improved to 5-0 for the first time since the 2020-21 season and continued their 23-game win streak against SWAC teams.
“Mississippi Valley State did a great job,” Missouri men’s basketball head coach Dennis Gates said. “They’re one of three teams to really play zone (defense) an entire game. Syracuse, Merrimack, Mississippi Valley (are) those teams that really do a good job, and you could tell.”
Coming into the contest, KenPom listed MVSU as the nation’s 362nd team, or the second-worst program in the NCAA. Against KenPom’s No. 48 team, however, MVSU did not go down without a fight.
Instead, the Delta Devils battled back from an eight-point deficit in the first half and made Mizzou look uncomfortable on offense for most of the evening. The Tigers committed 13 turnovers, including eight in the first half alone.
Leading the charge for MVSU was senior guard Terry Collins, who came into the contest averaging 16.4 points per game. Before seven minutes had even passed in the first half though, Collins already had 16 points and counting. At halftime that number jumped to 22, and by game’s end he finished with a game-high 27 points.
“Terry’s a good basketball player,” MVSU head coach George Ivory, who played in the only other meeting between these two programs in 1986, said. “He can do so much ... I wanted to get him off the ball, where he could get some shots off.”
D’Moi Hodge and Nick Honor, who had a team-high six assists, led the charge throughout the first half, combining for 22 points and four steals. Outside of those two Tigers, Mizzou shot just 35% from the field, including 11% from beyond the arc.
“(Honor is) very important,” Mizzou guard DeAndre Gholston said. “He’s our point guard. We follow his lead...we just try to get out as fast as we can and receive an easy pass and easy bucket.
The duo scored 14 of the Tigers’ first 20 points, as Mizzou jumped out to a 20-12 lead within the first six minutes of the game. Hodge drilled a trio of three-pointers, while Honor added a three-pointer of his own and a layup.
“I thought our guys, from the first half, shot the ball well,” Gates said.
Needing a score and momentum, Collins drilled back-to-back three-pointers for the Delta Devils, sparking a 10-2 rally that tied the game at 22 points apiece.
Tigers freshman forward Aidan Shaw, who tallied seven points including a thunderous dunk, responded to the momentum shift, knocking down two free throws and draining a three-pointer of his own to give the Tigers a six-point lead less than two minutes later.
Both teams traded a series of runs and baskets to close the half, including five fast break points for the Tigers. At halftime, despite the projected talent gap, the scoreboard read 40-37 Mizzou.
“We made plays,” Gates said. “We just didn’t make enough of them to get the reactions that we needed.”
The Delta Devils shot 45.5% from the field in the first half, aided by 11 layups and one dunk as well as four three-pointers. Mizzou, meanwhile, lost the rebounding battle 20-14 and failed to establish much momentum despite sporting a 36.8% three-point percentage.
To begin the second half, MVSU cut the deficit to two points after a three-point play from Alvin Stredic Jr. Mizzou, utilizing a pair of offensive rebounds and a held-ball, bounced back with a jumper from Kobe Brown, who finished with nine points.
From there, the Tigers never looked back.
Hodge built upon his 12 first half points with a layup and a thunderous slam, off a pass from Honor on a fast break opportunity, to increase the lead to 50-40 within about two minutes.
Less than 30 seconds later, Isiaih Mosley struck, hitting a three-pointer for his first points of the game. He carried his momentum forward, leading a 17-0 Mizzou run to extend the lead from seven to 24 points. He scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the stretch, providing a mix of jumpers and a dunk that sent the home crowd into jubilation.
“I thought Isiaih did a good job of spacing but also penetrating the zone,” Gates said. “What Isiaih did was able to create for his teammates.”
MVSU broke its 7:23 scoreless streak with a fast break layup from Stredic and followed that up with four consecutive free throws to cut the deficit to 18 once again. Mizzou’s firepower and pressure became too much to overcome, however, as Mosley, Hodge, DeAndre Gholston and Sean East II helped the Tigers close out on a 13-10 advantage.
Mizzou finished 50% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc, capitalizing on fast break opportunities and points off of turnovers to overwhelm the MVSU defense late. Defensively, the Tigers forced a season-high 23 turnovers and held the Delta Devils to just 37.3% shooting, including a 26.9% mark in the second half.
After 20 first half points, Collins mustered only seven in the second half, too.
“I think (Mizzou) really got to him with their physicality and pressure,” Ivory said.
Hodge led the defensive charge, recording six steals and blocking a shot, while Honor added five steals of his own. Brown, Mosley and Shaw combined for seven blocks and one steal as a trio, helping the Tigers total eight blocks and 16 steals.
Perhaps Mizzou’s greatest weakness of the game was the rebounding battle, which MVSU won 39-32. Although the Delta Devils only scored 11 second chance points on those opportunities, their 15 offensive rebounds pose a significant learning point for the Tigers going forward.
“We lost the rebounding category (and) that’s an area we need to improve on,” Gates said. “If rebounding is the only thing that we have to work on, that means there is some special things that can happen if we just close out possessions, and I think there’s some ways to do that.”
Mizzou will continue its eight-game homestand to begin the season on Wednesday, welcoming the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers to Columbia. Coastal Carolina (2-1) is ranked 186th in the KenPom standings and has a projected 9% chance at victory, but will be eager for an early-season upset.