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Missouri basketball survives Southern Indiana’s hot 3-point shooting, begin the Gates era with a win

The Screaming Eagles shot a scorching 50% from 3-point land, but Mizzou’s transition game and dominance in the paint led them to a 97-91 win.

Mizzou tipped off the Dennis Gates era on Monday night when they played host to Southern Indiana. The Screaming Eagles made their debut at the Division-I level as members of the Ohio Valley Conference, looking to spoil a a day of hope and positivity within the Tiger basketball program.

“Over 10,000 fans showed out, and I think that was a special, special thing,” Coach Dennis Gates said, “And it gave our guys some momentum.”

It was the Kobe Brown Show early and often for the Tigers. He logged a double-double with just over a minute left in the FIRST HALF.

Brown dominated on the boards all night long and remained aggressive on offense, finishing the night with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

The Screaming Eagles hung around in the first half, but they rarely cut the deficit to single-digits. The Tigers got out into transition early and often, and some crafty play from Sean East II (12 points), Tre Gomillion (12 points), and Aidan Shaw (9 points) supported Kobe’s dominant performance.

Shaw especially made an impact. In his first college game, the highly-touted recruit proved effective on the glass and not afraid to let it fly from anywhere on the court.

The Tigers led 47-31 at halftime thanks to a complete performance on both ends of the floor.

Dre Gholston got things started in the second half with seven quick points out of the break. That, and a Noah Carter dunk in which he tried to take the rim off, kept the momentum going out of the break.

The Screaming Eagles mounted an 11-0 run after that, as some hot outside shooting allowed them to cut the Tiger lead to 56-47 with 14:10 left in the game. Southern Indiana shot 13/28 from behind the arc on the night, with Trevor Lakes hitting six of those.

“I never gave USI a second look,” Gates said. “I wanted our guys to adjust. I will never do anything to save our guys from something we could learn from. In the long-run, we can benefit from it.”

“Their worst percentage in the second half was from the free throw line,” Gates said. “I give Southern Indiana a ton of credit; they fought and are well-coached. I doubt that we will see 14/17 from 3 in the second half again though.”

After a couple minutes of back-and-forth play, a Nick Honor three-pointer extended the Tiger lead to 68-55. Sean East II picked up the slack after that, as he got into double-figures with a nice floater and then forced a jump ball and shot clock violation on the other end.

His stellar defensive play ignited the Tigers, as they exploded down the stretch. Translating defense to offense became the name of the game, and having true point guards like Honor, Gomillion, and East made that easy.

Still, the Screaming Eagles would not go away. More hot shooting (and some cold shooting on the other end) allowed them to cut the lead Tiger lead to 8 with 2:06 remaining in the game. Mizzou would hang on to their lead thanks to some more transition buckets.

“Once we got that lead late, we relaxed a little bit,” East II said. “We have to focus more on the details at that point.”

The scoreline read 97-91 in favor of Mizzou when the final buzzer sounded.

The opening night of the Dennis Gates era can be ruled a success. The Tigers played with a noticeable improvement in energy and aggressiveness, attacking in transition whenever they had the chance. Hodge continues to impress with his shooting, while East and Mosley showed their ability to create points when needed and Tre Gomillion proved he can be an offensive threat as a posting guard.

“Our team has depth, I am not worried about our guys being able to score,” Gates said. Six Tigers scored in double figures on the night. “20 assists and 11 turnovers is the stat line I’m most excited about. 20 assists in a game is awesome; that means unselfishness.”

There were still some struggles tonight, however. Mizzou shot a brutal 25% from 3-point land. Compared to USI’s 50%, that was what kept the Screaming Eagles in this game.

Fouls became an issue as well, as Sean East II picked up 3 in the first half and Southern Indiana got in the bonus with over seven minutes left in the opening half. Hodge, Honor, and Kobe and Gomillion each finished with 3 fouls on the night, while East II had 4.

Mizzou will host Penn (0-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. Catch that game on SEC Network+.