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What Dennis Gates and Jordan Butler had to say: Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024

A lot of talk about the freshman class ahead of Saturday’s matchup.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri (8-11, 0-6 Southeastern Conference) continues its road trip as it travels to South Carolina (16-3, 4-2) for the second time this season. On Tuesday, Missouri suffered a low-scoring 63-57 defeat to Texas A&M in College Station for its sixth consecutive loss. The last time the Tigers and Gamecocks faced off was on Jan. 13 where MU fell in overtime after leading by as much as five late in regulation. As always, Dennis Gates was made available to the media and this week’s player inclusion was Jordan Butler, who made his first career start on Tuesday.

Dennis Gates

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On the Texas A&M Game: “I don’t know if you’ll ever see a team shoot 27% from field goals, 22% from the three, and then, you know, win a ballgame or not even have a deficit at halftime. We put ourselves in a good position defensively, but we’ve got to go back, regroup, and we have a tough road game this weekend against South Carolina.”

On South Carolina: “One of the toughest defensive teams in our conference. Lamont Paris has done a great job in year two. Obviously, definitely in my eyes, coach of the year in the conference.”

What to take away from the last time the Tigers faced the Gamecocks: “You have to take everything. You have to take all parts from it. Inside out. It was an overtime game. They were able to close out, but those situations that you play in your mind, you hope to somehow get them back.”

On where he wants his team to adjust: “We have to make sure the rebounding and turnovers and things like that are minimized to give ourselves a chance. We have to have a positive-to-assist turnover ratio.”

On Jordan Butler: “Well, this started in practice for him and the game previously. He was our highest-graded defender for the first time he had that award in his young career, and that’s what it’s about. Allowing guys to develop and grow and understand the ups and downs and speed but also the expectation, and Jordan has been doing a tremendous job for us.”

On Trent Pierce: “Trent Pierce came down with an illness, sick. I was shocked that he played because he didn’t practice two days before, but he had a great shoot-around, meaning walk through 45 minutes before the game, and that’s what constituted him being available to play. He gave us great minutes at the end of the half, but those guys’ growth and development are important.

On Anthony Robinson II: Anthony Robinson was 0-3. He’s dealing with some family things right now, and ultimately, he’s important to us.

On the freshman class in general: “Those guys (the freshman) are going through what life throws at them as young freshmen as we all have been there and now it’s about processing and growing and going on their own journey. And you have to paint them with different paintbrushes. You can’t paint everybody with the same brush, and everybody has their own journey.”

Jordan Butler

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

His takeaways: “My takeaways is to play really hard. That’s the main thing, just playing hard, trying to get offensive rebounds, and get to the free throw line as much as possible.”

On what he feels has been leading to close losses: “I think a lot of it, like last game it definitely was the free throw line. They shot 37 free throws; we shot 10, so that was a big difference, especially against A&M.”

On where he’s felt like he’s grown: “I’ve definitely feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I’ve gotten a lot faster and more physical and being able to hold my own against stronger guys.”

On how he’s grown defensively: “When I first got here it was challenging to learn all the different concepts, so it’s just been something I’ve been trying to focus more and more on the past couple weeks.”

On his shot: “It’s been an adjustment coming from high school. I shot 40% from 3-pointers, so I’ve found a little slump, but I’m trying to work through it.”

On Anthony Robinson II and Trent Pierce: “I feel like everyone is escalating up. We’re all just working hard and getting better together so I would say we are inclining up.”