The women’s teams faced off against each other Thursday (to rather dismal results)and now the men’s teams will get their chance on Saturday. Missouri (8-7) will be looking for its first SEC victory while South Carolina (13-2) is coming off a 27-point thrashing at Alabama. As always, Dennis Gates was made available to the media and this week’s player inclusion was Jesus Carralero-Martin, who played a season-high 19 minutes at Kentucky.
On South Carolina: “What they’re doing is shooting the ball a little better than they did last season. They have some key additions with the Vandy transfer (Myles) Stute, he’s playing great. (B.J) Mack is playing great, but their best player is Meechie Johnson, he had a great game here last season, and he’s done a tremendous job for his team as he leads them in scoring as well as other categories.”
What happened over the final few minutes at Kentucky where Mizzou shot 1-for-15 from the field?: “Well, the last stretch we didn’t have Sean East for about six minutes...Nick Honor had to play 19 minutes without a sub because of that and we didn’t have Ant Robinson [out with non-covid illness], so our rotation was a little stagnant. We did get to the free throw line, but we weren’t able to execute on the field goal during that moment.”
Words on Nick Honor: “Nick Honor is actually compared to career numbers playing well. We want him to be Superman and sometimes we’ve got to put realistic expectations on young men. He’s averaging 10 points a game, there’s only one other time he’s averaged double-digits and that was his freshman year in college at Fordham.”
“I love his leadership and what he’s doing and how he’s responding to the minimal adversity he’s going through.”
On Tamar Bates following his fifth straight double-digit performance: “I think psychologically he’s in a safe environment. His teammates love him, he’s responding to coaching. But he’s a young man that wants to even play better.”
On the Tigers bench after scoring a combined 13 points the previous two games : “We have to distribute our points in a better way. We need guys to play better. You look at Curt Lewis, he wants those three jump shots back so bad and they were wide open, right? And he’s a better shooter. He’s been showing that in practice that he’s a better shooter. You look at Jesus (Carralero-Martin), he’s been playing well for us and he had done a great job coming off the bench and we even gave John Tonje the opportunity to go out there and play.”
“What you have to understand is plus-minus. When Mabor Majak and John Tonje went into the game, they instantly made an impact. They were plus-14 and plus-8 in that first half in the plus-minus category. That is a big difference...Ultimately, they have to do a better job of getting certain things done and when opportunities come that’s where I think the points off the bench will be essential to us.”
On the decision to play Mabor Majak against Kentucky: “He’s been playing well. He’s one of our most physical defenders and I believe for him last season he won some games for us here against Mississippi State against one of the best post players in the conference Tolu Smith, and again against one of the most physical low post teams in our conference at Tennessee and he played well at both, he escorted us to a victory with his minutes I just want to continue to see him impact the game and that’s what he was able to do.”
On the decision to not play Jordan Butler and Trent Pierce against Kentucky: “Executive decision. That’s what it was just an executive decision. Nothing in between it. It was just a decision in the field.”
Jesus Carralero Martin
His thoughts on South Carolina: “They play kind of similar to us. They play pretty spread out...High motor guys, really good point guards that can shoot the ball. But we are a better team and we got a really good game plan for tomorrow.”
On his mindset: “Anytime I get on the floor I appreciate it. So that’s my mentality. I’m giving 100% on both sides of the court.”
On what he brings on the defensive side of the court: “I’m more experienced than the other guys, so I feel like I know to guard bigger guys even though I’m lighter than them.”
On what he thinks the team needs to better in SEC play: “We got to play more together. We got to get more pass counts. Defensively we got to do a better job. We haven’t gotten there yet. Our communication has got to be better in games. I feel like it’s more on the defensive side than the offensive side.”
- Anthony Robinson II will be available against South Carolina.
- Caleb Grill is moving from a full cast to a half cast. There is no timeframe on his return yet.