The Dennis Gates era is underway in Columbia! Mizzou played host to Washington University on Thursday, closing out the preseason with an exhibition match.
While WashU was a heavy underdog entering this game, they did not play like it for most of the first half. WashU’s outside shooting, combined with the Tigers’ struggles from deep (2/10 in the first half), kept them in the game.
“Our young men came out a little bit nervous,” Gates said. “I made sure to pull guys out before they got into a rhythm to see if they could fight back into a rhythm.”
Still, Mizzou’s stars showed out to push them to a 45-30 halftime lead. The now-leaner (and taller!) Kobe Brown had 14 points and 7 rebounds in the first half, showcasing why he was a First Team All-SEC selection this week. His dominance in the paint, combined with some crafty perimeter play from Sean East II (8 points on the night), DeAndre Gholston (9), and Isiaih Mosely (11) allowed Mizzou to pull away towards the end of the first half. Once the Tigers began to attack in transition and towards the paint, the Bears had no answer.
Dennis Gates was also on-record saying that this team would go 11-12 deep this season. He stayed true to his word, playing 11 players in the first half. Gates clearly wants to figure out what he has before really dividing up the minutes on this team.
It remained a 15-point game for much of the second half, but WashU cut it to 9 with just over nine minutes to play in the game. That would be the closest they would get the rest of the way, as the Tigers closed the game out strong to win 89-61.
Kobe Brown showed why this may be a breakout season for him, as his game looks more polished to go along with a leaner frame. Also, Brown just appeared to be more aggressive in general, putting up a shot any time he had the ball in the paint. He finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, leading the team in both categories.
“He’s a great basketball player who has versatility on both the offensive and defensive ends,” Gates said of Brown. “He’s the son of a coach, so he sees the game so well. If it was up to Kobe, he wouldn’t want to lead this team in scoring every night. He demonstrated his love for Mizzou by not entering the portal.”
In terms of the newcomers, East II really impressed with his creativity on the outside. Gholston and D’Moi Hodge (3/4 from 3-point land) had solid outings with 9 points apiece, Nick Honor appeared to be very comfortable running this offense, and Noah Carter took advantage of his opportunities down low with 8 points.
Some important stats to take away from this game. The Tigers shot 27.8% from behind the arc yet 55.7% from the floor. They out-rebounded WashU 38 to 33.
“We gotta rebound by committee; we can not put it all on Kobe Brown to do it every single game,” Gates said. “Our guards gotta be better rebounders.”
The Tigers will host Southern Indiana (0-0) on Monday at 7:00 p.m. CST to begin the season. Catch that game on SEC Network+.