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Live Game Thread: Mizzou begins a three-game home stand against Jackson State

It’s yet another battle of Tigers at Mizzou Arena when JSU pays a visit to Columbia.

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

Missouri 72 | Jackson State 73


1st Half Notes

  • The spin on Nick Honor’s shot is just perfect. I’m overly being a fan here, but from his form to the way the ball comes off of his hand, that is how you would want to teach a kid to shoot.
  • Vanover comes off after three minutes. Two points and two boards for the big man as he continues to get more in-tune with this team.
  • Tonje sinks his first 3-pointer as a Tiger. This home stand is a great chance for him to find his rhythm within the offense.
  • Noah Carter passes up a dunk for a 3-pointer, which he misses. Sometimes, that’s just how this Missouri team is going to be under Dennis Gates, live and die by the three-ball.
  • Caleb Grill with a nice tip on an inbounds pass to force a turnover. Interested to see how the Iowa State transfer responds after his ejection on Thursday.
  • Carter rises for a swat of a Jackson State 3-pointer. He seemed to float in the air on that one.
  • Frantic pace for this game through nearly nine minutes. Mizzou would usually prefer this, but credit to JSU for adapting well and matching the energy of the Tigers.
  • Very small lineup on the floor for Mizzou right now. Aidan Shaw is playing as the big, and I doubt we see much more of Vanover given how small Jackson State’s rotation is as of now.
  • Visiting Tigers are really getting after it defensively. Tipped passes and loose balls have been a theme of this game thus far.
  • Five-minute scoring drought is over thanks to a steal from Jesus Carralero Martin and an ensuing lay-up from Anthony Robinson II.
  • Ken Evans Jr. led Jackson State with 18 points per game coming into this one, and he is showing why. Plenty of tough buckets from the physical guard.
  • 8:46: Carter and Evans are getting into it a bit in the post. Carter shoved Evans after a play, causing the JSU guard to plead to the refs for a call.
  • It’s getting to the point where Anthony Robinson II will become the sixth man for this team. He’s been that good so far this season.
  • A couple of steals have led to some easy transition buckets for Mizzou as of late. Tiger defense has ramped it up after some early struggles.
  • Curt Lewis with his first 3-pointer as a Tiger off of a nice tip-out from Martin.
  • Martin doing what he does best: Finding streaking players for lay-ups. His pass-first mentality can get him into trouble at times, but man is it beautiful when he finds a hole in a defense.
  • Annor Boateng honored during the timeout at Mizzou Arena, receives a loud roar despite this being a lightly-packed arena.
  • Chase Adams has been playing very physical defense on Robinson on the perimeter. He’s only been called for one foul thus far.

2nd Half Notes

  • Jackson State takes a quick 41-40 lead out of halftime thanks to some transition buckets and sloppy offense from Mizzou.
  • Grill knocks down a 3-pointer. Had to feel good for a guy that was really frustrated with how he had been shooting this season.
  • Robinson with a beautiful lob to Shaw for a dunk. He gained the attention of two defenders and under-hand lobbed it to a streaking Shaw.
  • Grill with another nice steal from reading a backdoor pass. He then forces JSU into a foul on a rebound.
  • Then he charges down-floor for a reserve slam and struts away. Some high-energy minutes from Grill, and we’re seeing the emotion on full display yet again.
  • Nick Honor tucked the basketball high-and-tight like Cody Schrader did last night on that drive. He’s loving the matchup with the smaller Adams because it allows him to put the JSU defender on his back and use his size to shield the ball.
  • Robinson again draws a foul on Chase Adams. Freshman knows how to get a defender in a bad position.
  • 7:52: Have to respect a scoop shot over a larger defender from a 5-foot-8 guard. I tip my hat to you, Chase Adams.
  • Nick Honor is feeling himself after that and-one opportunity. The tough guard is using his strength to his advantage today, driving through defenders around the rim.
  • Honor air balls a three-pointer, but in typical fashion, he draws a charge on the other end. There’s nothing this guy won’t do to win a basketball game.
  • Tigers have done well to make the necessary plays to pull ahead late in this game. Finishing things off will be the key.
  • Not a smart foul by Caleb Grill there. You just have to let that lay-up go.
  • Butler was the only person the floor Mizzou would not want to have fouled. Carter is checking in to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
  • I don’t know if I have ever seen more of a bail out foul than that one right there. Evans Jr. with a great drive to the rack (nobody else was shooting that ball, I’ll tell you that for free), but he commits a foul right after.
  • Honor misses the front end. A strange game by all measures.
  • Jackson State picks up its first win of the seasons thanks to an Adams fadeaway. JSU closed the game on a 7-1 run in the final minute.

Pregame Updates

  • Your starters for tonight: John Tonje, Nick Honor, Sean East II, Noah Carter, Connor Vanover.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many 3-pointers will Nick Honor hit?
  3. What will the halftime score be?
  4. How many rebounds will Noah Carter have?
  5. Who will lead the team in assists?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.

Tonight’s Preview

Missouri is back in the friendly confines of Mizzou Arena to begin a three-game home stand through Thanksgiving week.

The Tigers bounced back from the Memphis loss well in a 68-50 win over SIUE on Monday and then followed that up with a gutsy 20-point comeback victory over Minnesota. The win over the Gophers happened thanks to a variety of players, but Nick Honor’s solo 10-point run sparked the second half rally.

Jackson State has struggled out of the gate to begin this season, coming to Columbia with an 0-5 record. JSU has fallen to Memphis, San Diego, Cal Baptist, Loyola Marymount and Tulsa, with none of those results being within single digits.

With South Carolina State and Loyola (MD) following Jackson State on Mizzou’s schedule, this home stand is a phenomenal chance for Mizzou to iron out some issues before non-conference play truly heats up in late-November and December.

Thus, let’s dive into yet another matchup of Tigers and what Mizzou needs to do to come out on top:

Game Info

Time: 5:00 CST

Date: Nov. 19, 2023

Location: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.

TV: SEC Network+

Noah is gonna find that kick-out one way or another.
Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

The Starters


PG: Nick Honor (Grad, 11.8 PPG)
SG: Sean East II (Grad, 16.0 PPG)
SF: John Tonje (Grad, 3.7 PPG)
PF: Tamar Bates (JR, 9.3 PPG
C: Noah Carter (Grad, 13.3 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Anthony Robinson III (FR, 4.3 PPG)

Jackson State

PG: Chase Adams (SR, 7.0 PPG)
SG: Keiveon Hunt (SOPH, 7.6 PPG)
SF: Coltie Young (JR, 6.4 PPG)
PF: Ken Evans Jr. (JR, 18.2 PPG)
C: Jordan O’Neal (SR, 8.6 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Zeke Cook (JR, 4.2 PPG)

*These are projected starters. Also, in today’s college basketball, positions rarely mean much. Those are included purely for perspective on what matchups on the court may look like.

NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Williams was a tough, crafty guard while in the league.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Get To Know Jackson State

These Tigers are led by 14-year NBA veteran Mo Williams, who came to coach in his hometown after a two-year stint at Alabama A&M. Williams played for a myriad of NBA teams, averaging roughly 13 points and five assists per game over his career. He was also a member of the 2016 NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers team that came back from a 3-1 deficit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

In his first season at the helm in 2022-23, Williams led JSU to a signature win over SMU and a surprising 12-6 finish in conference play, capping the year with a SWAC Tournament Semifinals appearance.

His sideline style is top-notch as well:

The idea was that this program would continue to build off of last season’s surprising success in year two under Williams.

Instead, it has been a very rocky start to the 2023-24 campaign for Williams and Co., as Jackson State has yet to win a game. The opening loss to Memphis was to be expected, but falling in blowout fashion to San Diego, Cal Baptist, Loyola Marymount and Tulsa is a tough look for a team that was hoping to build off a great 2022-23 campaign.

While Jackson State doesn’t necessarily excel on the offensive end, they struggle far more on defense. Opposing teams have a effective field percentage of 54%, are converting on 53.4 % of their shots from 2-point land and 36.4% from deep, and JSU allows teams to reel in 33.9% of their misses.

Offensively, matters don’t get much better. Williams’ team ranks in the bottom quarter of the country in effective field goal, turnover and offensive rebound percentage.

If there is one category where Jackson State has shown life, it’s in protecting the rim. JSU records a block on 10.6% of opponent’s possessions (132nd in the nation).

Ken Evans Jr. is the star of the show for Williams’ team, as he leads JSU with 18.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He’s a 6-foot-5, physical wing with great touch and a solid perimeter shot (50% from three), making him tough to guard at every level. Evans dropped 18 on Memphis in the opener and scored 50 combined points in games against California Baptist and Loyola Marymount...before scoring just one against Tulsa on Thursday.

Crafty 5-foot-8 point guard Chase Adams leads Jackson State with 3.2 assists per game, and Jordan O’Neal has been a solid complement to Evans down low by averaging 8.6 points per outing and also contributing 4.4 rebounds per game.

3 Keys To The Game

  1. Aggression is Key

If there is any game for Missouri’s offense to truly tee-off and let loose, it’s this one.

Jackson State is a smaller team, therefore they shouldn’t be able to just beat Mizzou up on the glass like Memphis and Minnesota did, which will allow the home team to keep this game at a pace it is comfortable with. Jackson State also struggles in on-ball defense, meaning that East, Honor, Bates and Carter should have a field day in getting to the rim.

The way these two teams are built favors Mizzou heavily matchup-wise, and thus this is a game where it should attempt to jump on the opposition early and make this one unreachable by halftime. Take advantage of the talent, size and experience difference, and do not let up.

2. Get John Tonje going offensively

The Colorado State transfer has shown flashes of what he can do this season, and he could become a much-needed extra scoring option for this team if he can find a rhythm within this offense. Tonje is a versatile scorer, and it appears that he’s getting healthier game-by-game.

To throw a number out there, I’d say 40 points from Tonje during this home stand would be a great sign. He went 2-for-2 from the floor against the Gophers, so he’s got momentum.

3. Push for assists

A Dennis Gates-coached team generally doesn’t need to try too hard to rack up a bunch of assists, but this is a game where the squad could get to over 20 with little issue.

“I credit our guys for moving the ball and not over penetrating, not being in a one-dimensional focus on the rim,” Gates said following the SIUE win where Mizzou had 16 assists. “I thought our guys moved the ball and it went from one side to the next. We executed and that was key.”

If Missouri can avoid a shooting slump, Jackson State likely won’t be able to keep pace with the tempo of the offense. This team passes at a high-level, and while one could argue that players like East and Bates could hone in on trying to win in one-on-one scenarios in this game, this group needs to stay committed to a pass-first mentality. Establishing chemistry is a major reason why Gates scheduled this three-game stretch in mid-November, and that can only happen through pass, after pass, after pass, after pass.

This guy loves efficient passing like no other coach in America.
Missouri head coach Dennis Gates shouts to his team in the first half of a game against SIUE on Nov. 13, 2023, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. (Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation)

Game Prediction

KenPom Prediction: Missouri 80 | Jackson State 62

My Prediction: Missouri 89 | Jackson State 63

There is a very large difference between 3-1 and 2-2 this season.

Missouri was out-rebounded by 16 and shot nine less free throws against Minnesota. Yet, clutch shooting and plenty of turnovers from the Gophers allowed the Tigers to escape with a victory.

Now, this team has a plethora of momentum at its back and a great opportunity to build up more confidence over this week-long span. The biggest goal of this game against Jackson State should be to develop more chemistry:

“I’m very happy with what’s going on and really looking forward toward the future,” Carter said following the SIUE win. “And, looking forward, we just have to keep continuing to grow, continue to be better. We really need to get into a flow and understand the team.”

All in all, Missouri should have no trouble finding an offensive rhythm against JSU, and I expect to see plenty of players with some gaudy numbers by the end of the game. Mizzou has a rare size advantage in this one, an offense that is fully capable of taking advantage of JSU’s lacking defense and is slowly but surely becoming more and more in-tune as a team.

This will serve as a true get-right game to kick off the home stand.