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Live Game Thread: Tigers look for SEC win No. 1 against a high-scoring Gators team

After facing the Southeastern Conference’s No. 1 ranked offense, Mizzou returns to face the No. 2 ranked team in that department.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri 67 | Florida 79

Final


1st Half Notes

  • Bates shrugs his shoulders after a tough lay-up in which he had to finish through the body of a big.
  • Vanover finds a streaking Carter, who spins in the lane to convert an easy lay-in. Tigers have been able to get into the paint with ease thus far.
  • East is getting onto Vanover for something on an offensive possession. He high-fived the big man after but was very animated.
  • Six free throws in the first six minutes. Gates must be thrilled.
  • East and Shaw combined for a great open-floor trap that resulted in East ripping the ball away from UF. He followed that up with a nice-looking jumper off the glass on the other end.
  • 13:08 (Mizzou 10-9): Very evenly matched game thus far, both sides are making tough shots on the offensive end. Three Florida turnovers are the difference thus far.
  • Bates and East are in a great rhythm thus far. Every shot they take looks like a make.
  • Methodical post-up from Carter as he created just enough separation for the baby hook. Great display of patience and footwork there.
  • Robinson called for a hook on the offensive end, something the freshman will learn to not do.
  • 9:12 (Mizzou 20-17): No matter who is guarding Noah Carter, it’s a mouse in the house for the bruising forward. He’s getting whatever he wants in post-up action.
  • A fly-by from East on a closeout results in a Walter Clayton Jr. 3-pointer that gives UF its first lead since the 15:21 mark.
  • That was perhaps the best move of Jordan Butler’s young career. He took a defender baseline and finished on the other side of the rim with a reverse.
  • 3:55 (Mizzou 29-28): Bates splashes home a 3-pointer from near the logo to allow Mizzou reclaim the lead. He’s been locked in on both ends from the jump.
  • Really great minutes from Butler here, as he faced a two-on-one in the paint and was able to force a miss.
  • Bates called for a block on a half-ending fast break for Florida. Gators will take momentum into the break.

2nd Half Notes

  • If anybody has ever been in a zone, Tamar Bates is right now. His mid-range shot is automatic right now.
  • Every time Mizzou appears to gain momentum, Florida has taken it right back. Credit to the Gators for hitting key shots when they need it most.
  • Bates is letting Zyon Pullin hear it after he hit another floater.
  • A lot of jumping around from Mizzou on shot fakes defensively. It’s allowing UF to get some easy paint touches and create easy looks.
  • 13:40 (Florida 50-47): That’s a quick four-point burst to bring Mizzou back to within three.
  • Incredibly tough shot on a step-back 3-pointer from Zyon Pullin, silencing the home crowd.
  • Florida is finding easy ways to get to the foul line in this half. There’s been too many clean dump-offs into the painted area overall.
  • Shaw shows some physicality to get to the line.
  • Florida has taken control of this game on both ends. Gators are winning on the glass and are continuing to shoot it at a high level.
  • 6:12 (Florida 65-55): Bates with a tough and-one. Tigers will need a lot more of that to get back into this game.
  • Butler and Samuel are tied up going for a rebound, leading us to our last media timeout.

Pregame Updates

  • Starters for tonight: East, Honor, Bates, Carter, Vanover.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many bowls will Red Panda stack on her head?
  3. How many 3-pointers will Noah Carter hit?
  4. What will the halftime score be?
  5. Who will be the surprise star of the day?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.


Preview

This is the first of two matchups between Mizzou (8-9, 0-4 Southeastern Conference) and Florida (11-6, 1-3). Both teams will face off in Gainsville on Feb. 28.

Both teams are now looking to get the bad taste out of their mouths following Tuesday’s results in the SEC. For Missouri, the inability to get to the free throw line in the first half and the lack of offensive depth to keep Alabama doomed the Tigers' chances at picking up their first victory in conference play as they fell 93-75.

As for Florida, the Gators ventured into Knoxville to face No. 6 Tennessee. The result wasn’t pretty for the Gators as they fell to 0-5 in Quad 1 victories in an 85-66 defeat to the Vols. It’s a bit of an outlier performance for Florida as it was held to its lowest scoring total of the season. The Gators got off to a hot 10-3 start with victories over Florida State, Pittsburgh (A team Mizzou also took down), and Michigan in double overtime. Conference play has been a different story as the Gators are off to a 1-3 start with their lone win being against Arkansas while falling to Kentucky, Mississippi and most recently, Tennessee.

Mizzou is 4-9 all-time against Florida. Three of those victories came in Columbia in 2013, 2015, and 2020 with the first game being the most memorable as it was the Tigers' last top five victory. A win today won’t equal the magnitude of the 2013 game, but it will get MU over the hump with its first conference win and first victory over a Power Six opponent since Nov. 28.


Projected Starters

Mizzou

G: Nick Honor (Grad, 10.8 PPG)

G: Sean East II (Grad, 16.5 PPG)

F: Noah Carter (Grad, 12.8 PPG)

F: Tamar Bates (Jr, 11.3 PPG)

C: Connor Vanover (Grad, 4.2 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Jesus Carralero-Martin (Sr, 2.8 PPG)

Florida

G: Walter Clayton (Jr, 15.9 PPG)

G: Will Richard (Jr, 10.6 PPG)

G: Zyon Pullin (Grad, 14.9 PPG)

F: Tyrese Samuel (Grad, 14.3 PPG)

C: Michael Handlogten (Soph, 6.3 PPG)

Notable Sixth Man: Riley Kugel (Soph, 11.6 PPG)


Get to know Florida

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Gates and Todd Golden both elevated themselves to the Power Six ranks last season and before Gates got the job in Columbia, Golden was linked to MU before heading to Florida on Mar. 18, 2022.

Golden arrived from the Golden State where he coached at San Francisco for six seasons (three as an assistant and three as a head coach). He led the Dons to a 57-36 record including an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2022.

Prior to landing in San Francisco, Golden was an assistant at Auburn (2014-16) and Columbia University (2012-14). He played collegiately at St. Mary’s (2004-2008) and professionally in Israel for Maccabi Haifa B.C.

Like Alabama, Florida can score. Its offense ranks 15th in the nation with 85.2 points per game. Its offensive adjusted efficiency ranks 23rd in the country and fourth in offensive rebound percentage. The Gators have scored 80 or more points in 12 games this season, but while their offense is great, their defense ranks 301st in the nation, allowing 76.5 points per game.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Florida attacked the transfer portal hard and found great success in doing so. The Gators have five players who tally double-digit scoring totals. Three of those players came through the portal. Walter Clayton leads the way with 15.9 points after being an All-MAAC player a season ago. Tyrese Samuel comes from Seton Hall and is nearly averaging a double-double with 13.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest while Zyon Pullin is averaging 14.9 points per game himself.

The other two Gators that average double-figures is Riley Kugel, an All-SEC Freshman a year ago, and junior Will Richard. Micah Handlogten, a 7-foot-1 transfer from Marshall, adds a monster rebounding presence with 7.3 per game.


3 Keys to the Game

#1 Bring the A Game in the rebounding battle

As mentioned above, Florida is sensational when it comes to rebounding. They rank first in the nation with 44.9 rebounds per game and second with 16.5 offensive boards per contest. That is thanks to Handlogten, Samuel and Alex Condon, who hauls in 7.2 rebounds himself. It’ll be a big test for Missouri’s bigs, specifically Aidan Shaw and Connor Vanover.

#2 We need you Sean East

On Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, Sean East II had perhaps his worst game of the season. The Louisville native tallied just six points in the Tigers’ 18-point loss. He played just 30 minutes while shooting 2-of-8 from the field. If Missouri wants to keep up with the conference’s second-best offense, it's going to need its best scorer on the court.

#3 Close out the game

Missouri has not been great at finishing out games in SEC play. The Tigers finished the Georgia game by shooting 14% from the field. Against Kentucky, the Tigers shot 1-for-15 to close out the contest and at home against South Carolina, it was once again 14%. Providing the knockout punch will lead to victory of course. Mizzou surged ahead against Georgia and South Carolina late, the deal just wasn’t closed.


Game Prediction

KenPom Prediction: Florida 81, Missouri 78

My Prediction: Florida 88, Missouri 77

Tuesday gave us a glimpse of what we could perhaps see at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers of course played confidently but it was obvious that it didn’t have enough offensive firepower to keep up with the Crimson Tide. Florida presents even more trouble with its ability to rebound and Missouri just doesn’t have that dominant big yet. The Tigers will eventually upset a team with a better record in conference play, it just won’t be Florida.