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MBB Preview and Live Thread: Mizzou faces South Carolina in Battle of Columbias

The Tigers play host to the South Carolina Gamecocks, who look to bounce back from an emotional two-point loss to Arkansas.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri 83 | South Carolina 74


1st Half Notes

  • A lob from Nick Honor to Noah Carter starts the game off for Mizzou. He follows it up with a three on his next possession, continuing his hot shooting at home.
  • Tigers are active on defense to start this game, already two tipped passes and nearly a breakaway for Nick Honor.
  • 16:40 | Missouri has begun this game 5-for-5 from the field. Hodge with two threes already.
  • Josh Gray is killing the Tigers on the glass so far. He has three offensive boards already.
  • Gholston lets Hayden Brown slip right behind him for a layup, and then commits a foul.
  • Mohamed Diarra is the first sub of the night for Dennis Gates, along with Sean East II. Diarra promptly hits a three on his first possession.
  • Gamecocks are getting anything they want off their backdoor action with kick-outs. Tigers are lucky they aren’t hitting their threes.
  • Carolina grabbed a quick 20-19 lead, but the Tigers responded with five quick points.
  • 8:55 | Missouri is letting way too many SC players get penetration into the paint. Whether it’s off cuts, switching or straight up blow-bys, the Gamecocks have lived in the painted area thus far.
  • Kobe Brown with a tough and-one to extend the lead to five.
  • Lineup seems limited tonight, with Diarra and East II being the only two players to come off the bench and play significant minutes.
  • Aidan Shaw checks into the game. Gates has been limiting his minutes more lately, so it will be interesting to see how long he stays in this game.
  • 5:45 | Jackson II hits another to give SC a 30-29 lead.
  • Gates takes a timeout trailing by three.
  • Aidan Shaw with the most casual one-handed dunk off a lob that I have ever seen.
  • Credit to South Carolina. They are playing incredibly hard at both ends of the floor. Mizzou has been sloppy in response.
  • Tigers on a quick 8-2 run to retake the lead. Aidan Shaw sparked it, but great passing on the offensive end led to an open look for Hodge as well.
  • Jackson II hits another three. He’s 3-for-4 from behind the arc since entering this game at the 13:56 mark.
  • Tigers force a second-straight turnover to close the half.

2nd Half Notes

  • Carolina with two 3-pointers to start the half, regain the lead at 43-42.
  • I swear every team that steps foot in this building has their best shooting game of the season. Gamecocks at a 50% clip from behind the arc in this game.
  • Kobe Brown is throwing every pass he can down the floor. He’s also hitting every shot that he takes (2-for-2 this half).
  • 14:09 | Refs reviewing a hit to the face by Meechie Johnson on Kobe Brown.
  • Flagrant One assessed to Johnson.
  • Tigers are 3-for-8 on layups in this game.
  • G.G. Jackson II with an incredibly impressive flick of the glass for an and-one. He used all of his wingspan to get that one to go, definitely an NBA move.
  • Another review for a hit to the face, this time for Noah Carter swiping G.G. Jackson.
  • Mohamed Diarra with some great perimeter defense off of a switch.
  • 10:59 | Tigers have begun to regain some momentum. Kobe Brown playing some angry basketball right now, as he just put Hayden Brown under the basket on a layup.
  • 6:36 | Whistles are getting a lot of work in these recent minutes. Both teams set to be in the bonus from here-on-out.
  • Sean East II with the most casual one-handed cross-court pass I’ve ever seen. Nick Honor benefits from it, nails a three to extend the lead to 11.
  • Meechie Johnson did a crying motion to the Mizzou student section. They did not take kindly to it.
  • East II with a turnaround jumper at the shot clock buzzer. That’ll ice this one.

Pregame Updates

  • South Carolina leading scorer and rebounder Gregory “G.G” Jackson not in the starting lineup. Jackson went on Instagram Live following last Saturday’s loss with some words for the coaching staff. He later apologized.
  • Gholston, Hodge, Honor, Brown and Carter are your starters tonight.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many three-pointers will the Tigers hit?
  3. Will Mizzou have over or under 15 assists?
  4. How many turnovers will Mizzou force?
  5. How many points will Kobe Brown have?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.

Welcome to the newest rendition of the Columbia rivalry between the Missouri Tigers (17-6, 5-5 SEC) and South Carolina Gamecocks (8-15, 1-9).

Trouble is brewing in the ‘Other Columbia’ — Deputy Manager Josh calls it Columbia (L)East for the Gamecocks, who are amidst a seven-game losing streak. South Carolina’s leading scorer GG Jackson posted a rant to social media after the Gamecocks’ loss to Arkansas on Saturday, calling out the team’s play-calling and late game antics under first-year head coach Lamont Paris.

Mizzou, meanwhile, is celebrating a reformed season under its own first-year coach in Dennis Gates. The Tigers have surged into the NCAA Tournament picture behind their revamped culture and up-tempo nature, which continues to overwhelm opponents.

Similar to South Carolina though, Mizzou suffered one of its tougher losses this past weekend. With a prime opportunity to grab another Quadrant 1 victory and potentially punch their ticket to a March postseason run, the Tigers scored their fewest points of the season in a road loss to Mississippi State.

At a crossroads for both programs, this game means more than it may seem.

The Gamecocks enter as KenPom’s No. 243 ranked team, looking to rediscover the joy of victory against No. 54 Mizzou, who cannot afford a crushing Quadrant 4 loss. With matchups against four Top-50 teams following South Carolina, the Tigers will also need to avoid overlooking a team with nothing to lose.

For yet another game, this may be a must-win for the Missouri Tigers...

Game Info

When: Tuesday, February 7th

Where: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Missouri

Time: 8 p.m. CT

TV: SEC Network

KenPom Win Probability: 94%

The Starters


PG: Nick Honor (Grad; 8.3 PPG)

SG: Isiaih Mosley (SR; 9.6 PPG)

SF: D’Moi Hodge (Grad; 14.2 PPG)

PF: Kobe Brown (SR; 16.2 PPG)

C: Noah Carter (SR; 9.5 PPG)

Key Depth: Guard Sean East II (SR; 7.5 PPG), Guard DeAndre Gholston (Grad; 10.4 PPG) and Forward Mo Diarra (JR; 3.2 PPG)

South Carolina:

PG: Meechie Johnson (SO; 12.3 PPG)

SG: Chico Carter Jr. (SR; 10 PPG)

SF: Hayden Brown (Grad; 10.5 PPG)

PF: Gregory “GG” Jackson II (FR; 15.8 PPG)

C: Josh Gray (JR; 4.1 PPG)

Key Depth: Guard Jacobi Wright (SO; 5.6 PPG), Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk (R-JR; 2.5 PPG)

*These are projected starters based on previous games and pregame updates.

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina State at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Get To Know South Carolina

South Carolina is all too familiar with playing spoiler; just ask Kentucky and Clemson. However, the Gamecocks also understand the feeling of defeat, having won only six of their past 21 games.

Of South Carolina’s eight total victories, only three have come by more than double-digits, showcasing its inability to truly impose its will. Adding onto the suffering is the fact that the Gamecocks have only defeated one Southeastern Conference opponent in 10 tries, including six double-digit losses.

A key driving favor behind its losing ways is South Carolina’s inefficient offense. The Gamecocks own the SEC’s worst effective field goal percentage, shooting 39.4% from the field and 32.3% from beyond the arc. They also average 13.3 turnovers per game and fail to earn trips to the free throw line, ranking last in the conference.

While South Carolina’s offense does not present many positives, the Gamecocks do grab the sixth-most offensive rebounds per game (12.4) in the SEC, making up for their missed shots. These offensive boards come on 33.3% of South Carolina’s misses, which is the 49th-best mark in the nation.

Defensively, the Gamecocks are not much better.

South Carolina owns the conference’s worst defensive effective field goal percentage. Opponents knock down two-pointers at a 53.9% rate and follow with a 34.6% mark from 3-point range.

If there is any consolation, opposing teams shoot only 66.5% from the free throw line against the Gamecocks, which is top among the SEC and nation’s 19th-best.

GG Jackson, a hometown five-star recruit, leads the South Carolina offense, averaging team-highs of 15.8 points and 6.7 rebounds in 33 minutes per game. His 6-foot-9 frame may bode well for the prototypical rebounder, but Jackson can also extend his game to the 3-point line, where he shoots at a 33.6% clip.

A trio of fellow Gamecocks average double-figures as well.

Meechie Johnson, Hayden Brown and Chico Carter, Jr. make up this second wave. Johnson is a facilitator who also finds looks from behind the 3-point line, while Brown complements him inside the arc, knocking down 54% of his two-point shots.

Carter is an explosive offensive force, owning 10 double-digit scoring performances and a 48.3% 3-point percentage, but he is streaky and has not scored in two consecutive games.

Josh Gray is quietly stepping up in Carter’s recent slump. The junior notched a double-double against Arkansas with 20 points and 14 rebounds, including seven of the offensive variety.

South Carolina will also shower opponents with a heavy dose of 3-point shots, so if they get hot, as they did against Kentucky, beware.

3 Keys To The Game

1. Defend the 3-PT Line

Over a third (36.3%) of South Carolina’s point come via the 3-point line. The Tigers have been streaky in that department defensively, allowing explosive nights from several teams but also showcasing an ability to slow hot-shooting teams.

Mizzou will need to build off its defensive success against Mississippi State and channel the latter portion of that sentence in order to prevent the Gamecocks from taking down another potential NCAA Tournament team.

Perimeter and transition defense will become all the more important in this game, calling for bounce-back performances from the Tigers’ primary ball handlers. If Mizzou can limit the amount of 3-pointers allowed, then this one won’t be close.

2. Channel the Home Cooking

There may not be one team in the country who wants to play Mizzou in Columbia.

The Tigers are shooting 47.4% from 3-point range in their last two home games, feeding off their home-court advantage and shell-shocking opponents with a bevy of 3-point attempts.

South Carolina is not a well-established defensive team, making this shooting potential all the more enticing. Opponents score 30.9% of their points via the 3-point line against the Gamecocks.

3. Find the right lineup combination

Dennis Gates continues to experiment with lineups, looking for the perfect blend of size and offense.

Against Mississippi State, that plan backfired on the offensive end. It’ll be important for Gates to find the right combination early against South Carolina because that’ll help to dictate the tempo.

A glimpse of Nick Honor, Isiaih Mosley, D’Moi Hodge, Kobe Brown and Noah Carter to start the game would be a positive, but if they aren’t the starters, then someone else will need to find a way to complement the lineup effectively.

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

Game Prediction

My Prediction: Missouri 92 | South Carolina 71

KenPom Prediction: Missouri 84 | South Carolina 67

For those wanting a high-scoring shootout full of explosive plays, this should be the game for you. This contest will be a stark contrast from Mississippi State’s uncharacteristic performance and will provide a multitude of fireworks.

South Carolina has the ability to hang around, utilizing its offensive rebounding and 3-point shooting against Mizzou’s suspect defense against both.

However, the Tigers are far superior to the Gamecocks. Kobe Brown and GG Jackson will go head-to-head, leaving each team’s role players to step up into a greater role. Mizzou owns that advantage, boasting a roster that can run at least nine players deep.

D’Moi Hodge, Noah Carter and DeAndre Gholston will once again be asked to provide a spark offensively, and it’ll come to fruition against one of the worst defense’s the Tigers have seen all season.

Defensively, Mizzou has an opportunity to truly wreak havoc upon an emotional South Carolina team reeling from a two-point loss to Arkansas. As a result, I expect fans to witness the first 90-point showing of 2023 from the Tigers as they get back on track before Tennessee.