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Live Game Thread: The Shockers make the return trip to Columbia

After these two teams played a barnburner in Wichita last season, what will the 2023 edition have in store?

NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Maryland at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri 82, Wichita State 72 (Final)

1st Half

  • Starters: Aidan Shaw, Nick Honor, Noah Carter, Sean East II, and Tamar Bates.
  • Mizzou in their home whites. Wichita State in their black jerseys with gold numbers.
  • Nick Honor knocks down a 3-pointer for the games first points.
  • Tamar Bates collected his second steal, it leads to Noah Carter drawing a foul on the other end. Carters knocks down both free throws. 5-0 MU.
  • Less than three minutes in and Mizzou has already forced four turnovers.
  • Nick Honor scores his fifth point on a layup. Aidan Shaw was ready for the putback dunk but its 7-0 MU.
  • Wichita State calls a timeout after committing its sixth turnover by throwing the ball out of bounds.
  • Noah Carter knocks down a 3-pointer on an assist from Aidan Shaw. 10-0 MU.
  • Harlond Beverly scores for the Shockers on a 3-pointer. 10-3 MU.
  • Caleb Grill and Jordan Butler check in for Tamar Bates and Nick Honor.
  • And Jordan Butler just swatted Beverly. Anthony Robinson II checks in for Carter.
  • Quincy Ballard cuts Mizzou’s lead to five with a pair of free throws.
  • Cut to three now.
  • A beautiful transition leads to Robinson scoring following a steal by Sean East II. 12-7 MU.
  • East cashes a 3-pointer. 15-7 MU.
  • Wichita State answers but East has caught the hot hand by burying another 3-pointer. He has six points as Mizzou leads 18-9 with 11:59 left in the half.
  • Issac Abidde knocks down a 3-pointer for the Shockers as they get of double-digits.
  • MU’s lead cut to 18-15.
  • Robinson checks back in along with Connor Vanover.
  • Caleb Grill knocks down a long two. MU up five 20-15.
  • Vanover knocks down two at the free throw line. 22-15 MU.
  • Two more at the free throw line by Mizzou. This time by Caleb Grill. Tigers lead 24-15 and Mabor Majak checks into the game.
  • Vanover back in for Majak.
  • Ballard cuts Mizzou’s lead to five with a tip in.
  • Down to two now as Kenny Pohto hits a 3-pointer. Mizzou quickly calls timeout.
  • Noah Carter ends Wichita State’s 7-0 run with a pair of free throws. MU 26-22.
  • Majak and Trent Pierce both check in.
  • Nice ball movement leads to a 3-pointer by Honor. After being scoreless at Pitt he has eight points. MU 29-22.
  • Both teams going back-and-forth. Pohto score on one end for the Shockers, which is quickly answered by East.
  • Grill connects on a 3-pointer. MU’s lead extended to 34-24.
  • A quick 8-0 run by the Shockers cuts it to two.
  • Honor ends the run with his third 3-pointer. 37-32 MU.
  • Curt Lewis checks into the game as his teammate from his hometown, East knocks down a pair of free throws. Robinson collects a steal and a layup shortly after. 41-32 MU.
  • Halftime: Missouri 41, Wichita State 34.

Second Half

  • Noah Carter knocks down a pair of free throws to start the half. 41-34 MU.
  • A Tamar Bates steal and dunk extends it to 11. Aidan Shaw who joined Bates in the starting lineup recorded his first block of the afternoon which was proceeded by forcing a shot clock violation.
  • Colby Rogers knocks down a 3-pointer. Xavier Bell gets a three-point play on the next trip down. 45-39 MU.
  • Jordan Butler records his first points of the game with a dunk off the assist from East. 47-40 MU.
  • Rogers cuts it back to five, and a Jordan Butler travel results in a turnover for Mizzou.
  • East takes his defender to the cup. He’s up to 12 points. 49-42 MU.
  • Dalen Ridgnal cuts it to four with a three-point play.
  • Vanover almost completed a dunk by was fouled in the process. Two free throws puts Missouri above the 50-point mark. 51-45 MU.
  • Issac Abidde cuts it to three with a 3-pointer.
  • Vanover knocks down a 3-pointer himself. He was wide open behind the arc. It’s followed up by a Grill 3-pointer. 57-50 MU.
  • Another Vanover dunk has him at nine points while also giving Sean East II his sixth assist. The Shockers add a free throw and a tip in on the other end. 59-53 MU.
  • Beverly slices to the basket for a nice layup. Butler answers on the other end with a dunk. 61-55 MU.
  • Caleb Grill was down on the court after going up for a dunk attempt. He was able to get up but is clearly in pain.
  • East made one of two free throws for Grill. 64-55 MU.
  • A third dunk by Vanover has him in double-digits with 11 points. 68-62 MU.
  • The Shockers cut it to four. Timeout Missouri with 4:22 to play.
  • The Shockers cut it to two as Beverly takes a wide open drive to the cup.
  • Caleb Grill is back in the game and responds with a 3-pointer. 71-66 MU.
  • Bell responds with a layup. Three-point game with just over three minutes left.
  • East just knocked down a crucial 3-pointer extending Mizzou’s lead to 74-68 with under two to play.
  • Two more free throws by East makes it a 76-68 game.
  • East adds another pair. He has 22 and Mizzou leads by 10.
  • Final: Missouri 82, Wichita State 72.

Pregame Updates

Tonight’s Preview

To begin a series of two-straight matchups against teams from that state to the West, Mizzou will play host to Wichita State on Sunday.

These two squads played a classic in Wichita last year, with the Tigers coming out on top by a score of 88-84 in overtime thanks to 20 points and eight rebounds from Noah Carter and another 19 points from D’Moi Hodge. The Shockers led by as much as 10 in the second half, but a frantic rally and some clutch shooting from Mizzou allowed it to maintain its undefeated record.

Wichita State has held serve through a relatively light schedule thus far, beginning the year with four-straight wins and résumé-boosting victories over Western Kentucky, Richmond and Saint Louis. The Shockers’ lone loss came at the hands of 6-1 Liberty.

Of course, another headline in this game is the return of Ronnie DeGray III to Mizzou Arena, who played for the Tigers from 2021-23.

This one carries plenty of implications for both sides. The Tigers will look to pick up yet another résumé building win following the victory over Pitt, while Wichita State aims to exact revenge for last season’s heartbreaking defeat and pick up a positive result that would shine brightly on its own NCAA Tournament résumé.


Game Info

Time: 2:00 CST

Date: December 3rd, 2023

Location: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.

TV: ESPN2


The Starters

Mizzou

PG: Nick Honor (Grad, 11.4 PPG)
SG: Sean East II (Grad, 16.1 PPG)
SF: Tamar Bates (JR, 7.9 PPG)
PF: Aidan Shaw (SOPH, 3.5 PPG)
C: Noah Carter (Grad, 13.0 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Caleb Grill (Grad, 7.9 PPG)

Wichita State

PG: Harold Beverly (JR, 9.6 PPG)
SG: Xavier Bell (JR, 15.4 PPG)
SF: Colby Rogers (JR, 16.5 PPG)
PF: Kenny Pohto (JR, 13.9 PPG)
C: Quincy Ballard (JR, 6.9 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Dalen Ridgnal (SR, 9.0 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.


NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Oral Roberts vs Duke
Mills coaching his last game at ORU, a 74-51 defeat at the hands of Duke in the First Round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Get To Know Wichita State

College basketball fans may recognize Wichita State head coach Paul Mills from when he was patrolling the sidelines at Oral Roberts, coaching up current Tiger Connor Vanover for a brief time.

Mills began his coaching career as a long-time assistant at Baylor under Scott Drew before taking over at Oral Roberts in 2017 and transforming that program over a six-year span. He led the Golden Eagles to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, upset Ohio State and Florida en route to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2021 and helped develop current Texas guard Max Absmas, who scored over 2,500 points with ORU. Mills runs a similarly up-tempo, free-flowing offensive system to what Dennis Gates employs, keying in on three-point shooting and efficiency.

“Coach Mills has done a great job, obviously at Oral Roberts and now,” Gates said in previewing the Shockers. “They have great basketball tradition and are a bordering state, so we are going to need our crowd and the community to come out and create a home court advantage.”

After taking a trip to Greece over the summer to play three games against foreign teams, the Shockers began the 2023-24 campaign with five-straight wins. A 10-point victory over a solid Western Kentucky team was a bright sign early on, and Wichita State went 2-1 at the Myrtle Beach Invitational and followed that up with two more victories. Wins over Saint Louis, Western Kentucky and Richmond could prove to be strong, and the lone loss to the Flames is far from a poor result. After all, their only loss is to a red-hot FAU squad.

This is a Wichita State team that makes its bread on the defensive end. The Shockers have an adjusted defensive efficiency rating of 99.3 (67th in the nation), and they rank top 40 in opponent’s 3-point and overall shooting percentage. Mills’ squad does not necessarily excel offensively, although the group does convert on 55% of its 2-point attempts and doesn’t turn the ball over that much.

A dynamic junior guard duo leads the way for Wichita State. Xavier Bell and Colby Rogers combine for 31.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, and this team generally goes as far as they can take it. Bell transferred in from Drexel following the 2021-22 season and has found a home in Wichita. The former Kansas Mr. Basketball is a high IQ player that is tough to out-grit on either end.

Rogers went from Cal Poly, to Siena, to then join Mills prior to the 2022-23 season. Compared to Bell, Rogers is the much more dynamic offensive threat and is not afraid to let it fly at a moment’s notice, especially from deep (he’s already shot 21 3-pointers this season while no other Shocker has shot more than nine).

Kenny Pohto acts as the primary big on this team at 6-foot-10, 243 lbs, but former Georgia and Missouri State transfer Dalen Ridgnal leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game despite standing at just 6-foot-6. He’s a high-energy player with great athleticism, and the Kansas City-native will be very excited to play in front of his home state again.

Redshirt-junior guard Harlond Beverly adds on 9.6 points and 3.7 assists per game. Beverly is yet another transfer on this Shocker roster, and he arrived in Wichita this season after playing for Jim Larrañaga’s Miami program for four years.

And, former UMass Minuteman and Missouri Tiger Ronnie DeGray III will be back in Mizzou Arena after he transferred to Wichita State this past offseason. He was unfortunately ruled ineligible before the season started.


3 Keys To The Game

  1. Handling the duo of Bell and Rogers

The two Wichita State guards drive everything for this team on the offensive end, and the Tigers will be hard-pressed to slow them down. Rogers contributes through volume shooting, especially from behind the arc, while Bell is the more efficient of the two and also manages the offense more often than not.

Taking away one of the two star guards for WSU would go a long way in allowing Mizzou to win this game. The matchup of Honor and East vs. Bell and Rogers will be intriguing to watch throughout this game. They’re big guards, so the undersized perimeter starters for the Tigers will have to play big.

2. Jump out to a strong start

Slow beginnings to games have plagued Mizzou throughout this season. Outside of the Memphis and Loyola games, the Tigers have gotten out to sluggish starts and faced deficits within the first ten minutes of every game. Even against Pitt when the margin was slim early on, cold shooting was the storyline. That can stem from a lack of ball security and thus less possessions.

“I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance against Minnesota until we started to take care of the basketball,” Gates said. “That ultimately begins with our veterans.”

Wichita State has the offensive potential to truly take advantage of that, and they are far more careful with the ball than the Gophers are, thus making the option of a late-game rally much less likely. The Tigers have to buck the trend of slow starts at some point, and Sunday would be a great time to do so.

3. Get Nick Honor going offensively

I’ll preface this by saying that Honor certainly still contributed in other ways on Tuesday and played a really solid game.

That being said, Mizzou will not win a lot of games with him scoring 0 points. Honor was 0-for-6 from the floor and 0-for-3 from behind the arc. It was just an off day for him shooting the ball, and other players made up for that.

Back in the friendly confines of Mizzou Arena, Honor should be able to regain his offensive rhythm. A 10+ point outing would show that he is back on track, and the Tigers will need him to be during this upcoming stretch.


NCAA Basketball: South Carolina State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Game Prediction

KenPom Prediction: Missouri 73 | Wichita State 68

My Prediction: Missouri 74 | Wichita State 70

Following an up-and-down showing during the home stand, Mizzou responded well in controlling the Pittsburgh game for 30+ minutes. Connor Vanover played his best game of the season, Sean East II yet again proved that he can be a dynamic scorer at all three levels and the defense was stout when it needed to be.

Now, the perception of this season has changed. This looks like a team that is slowly beginning to mesh with each game and figuring out each other’s tendencies.

“We’re still getting to learn about each other, and we have to be more consistent,” Gates said following the win over Loyola (MD) last week. “We have to make sure certain guys become more consistent. I’m appreciative of how our guys are handling it right now.”

Wichita State will come in ready for a fight. The Shockers will want revenge for last season, but they also are in search of a victory that could headline their NCAA Tournament résumé and put them back on the national map after a multi-year hiatus. This is a tournament-caliber team walking into Mizzou Arena, and thus I expect a postseason-like game to occur.

Much like the Pitt game, the Tigers will have to be strong on the glass and knock down plenty of tough shots against a strong Wichita State defense. I see this being a back-and-forth affair between two evenly-matched squads, but the home crowd should provide some extra juice and Mizzou will be able to close this one out late as a result.