Amid 7,000-plus Missouri fans inside the T-Mobile Center, Seton Hall didn’t seem bothered, fighting through the noise and a late Tigers rally for a 93-87 victory.
It’s safe to say the Tigers’ first trip to Kansas City since 2019, one where they trailed by as many as 19 points, didn’t go as planned. The Tigers allowed the second-most points during Gates’ tenure, a day when the Pirates found their range from behind the 3-point arc to go with 82 percent shooting at the rim.
“Unbelievable basketball team,” Gates said of Seton Hall. “Great coach, NCAA Tournament team, there’s no doubt about it.”
Mizzou kicked off the evening on a high note. KC native Tamar Bates scored eight of Mizzou’s first ten points, including a pair of 3-pointers. And defensively, the Tigers’ use of a zone managed to unsettle the Pirates — but only briefly. When Seton Hall didn’t find ways to get behind the zone and attack, it cashed in turnovers by the usually sure-handed Tigers. Meanwhile, the Pirates, who shot 43.5 percent from behind the arc, buried enough 3-pointers to force MU back into man-to-man defense.
That’s when momentum shifted in favor of the road team.
Seton Hall went on a 16-3 run across a nearly minute span and surged to a 26-19 lead. Over that stretch, MU missed five of six shots and coughed the ball up twice. The Pirates dominated the Tigers and would finish the day with 44 points on dunks or layups.
“That’s just Big East basketball,” Gates said. “They made some tough paint shots...On the opposite end, we weren’t able to make our paint touches.”
Despite the big run, Mizzou fought back. The Tigers returned the favor at the rim as Sean East II and Jesus Carralero-Martin wiggled their way for buckets underneath. After a back-and-forth final few minutes, Seton Hall went into the break up 42-38.
“I’m proud of Zeus in the minutes he played,” Gates said of Carralero, who finished with eight points. “He’s not played this many minutes in a long time. He finished with 17 minutes and produced and did an unbelievable justice to why he should be playing more.”
That momentum petered out early in the second half. Addae-Wusu and Al-Amir Dayes resumed bombing away, and Seton Hall surpassed its season high for 3-pointers before the under-16 timeout. Once Dawes cashed in a Bates turnover, Seton Hall’s lead had reached 12.
Things didn’t get much better for the Tigers. The Pirates kept scoring in the paint, and MU’s offense kept stalling as the Pirates’ pick-and-roll coverages bottled up East off the bounce. Seton Hall went on an 18-3 run to go up by 19 with 12 minutes left.
While Mizzou didn’t fold, the Tigers never racked up enough stops to put the Pirates under pressure. At the 5:44 mark, Gates inserted Aidan Shaw and Trent Pierce to crank up a press, a tweak that helped MU peel off a 10-1 run and draw the Tigers within 76-70, capped off by East driving the lane and banking in a runner high off the glass that got the building revved up.
Yet MU didn’t get the lead under five until 8.5 seconds left, and Seton Hall held on for a quality win it desperately needed. “If we can bottle those last four minutes up, it would be a completely different game,” Gates said. “I just thought our guys over-thought and were trying to play perfect in that situation.”
Bates led the way in scoring with 22 on 7 of 12 shooting, while East finished with 16 points and six assists. Nick Honor added 14, and Noah Carter had nine points and nine rebounds.
“The team just needed more from me,” Bates said. “Whether that was defensively or offensively, I just let the game come to me. I didn’t force too much.”
However, Bates seemed dissatisfied.
“Stats is cool and all, but the bigger picture is about getting the W,” he said.
For Seton Hall, Dawes tied his career-high with 25 points. Addae-Wusu, who finished with 20, tied a career-high with four 3-pointers. Davis, Kadary Richmond, and Jaden Bediako each registered double-digit points with 19, 14 and 11, respectively. The Pirates shot a blistering 58.9 percent from the field.
“It’s impossible to win ball games if your opponent’s going to shoot 60 percent,” Gates said.
The Tigers will venture to the opposite side of the state for their next game, a Braggin’ Rights matchup with Illinois (7-2). The Illini will likely have payback on their mind, and they will be looking to avenge the 93-71 drubbing they took from Mizzou in 2022.