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Preview and Live Game Thread: Mizzou heads on the road to the Twin Cities

Mizzou’s first road test comes against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the ancient Williams Arena

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

Missouri 70, Minnesota 68 (Final)

First Half

  • Starters: Caleb Grill, John Tonje, Nick Honor, Noah Carter, Sean East II.
  • Minnesota’s Elijah Hawkins scores the game first points with a 3-pointer. Mizzou responds with a Noah Carter bucket.
  • Minny hits another 3-pointer, but Carter again responds, this time with a 3-pointer himself.
  • A quick 6-0 run by Minnesota. 11-5 Minnesota.
  • Nick Honor knocks down a 3-pointer cutting Minnesota’s lead to 13-10. The Gophers haven’t missed so far.
  • Sean East II scores his first bucket with a floater. Gophers lead cut to one.
  • Minnesota has started off 5-5 from behind the arc. Mizzou is shooting five of eight. Minnesota 19, Mizzou 12.
  • Tamar Bates has checked in and cuts for a nice layup.
  • Aidan Shaw just made a nice play on Dawson Garcia forcing a jump ball. Connor Vanover has now checked into the game.
  • East hits another floater cutting the Gophers lead to three.
  • Connor Vanover gets his first block as a Tigers and Tamar Bates capitalizes with a reverse layup. Minnesota 21, Mizzou 18.
  • Anthony Robinson has checked in.
  • The Gophers are making everything from behind the arc. 7-11 from 3-point range. Minnesota 30, Missouri 20.
  • Jordan Butler has checked in.
  • Noah Carter and with a Sean East II 5-0 run. Minnesota 30, Mizzou 25.
  • Caleb Grill hits an unbelievable shot. Mizzou is back within three with five minutes left in the half. Minnesota 30, Mizzou 27.
  • Anthony Robinson with a 3-pointer. Sean East II has a steal but waited to long on the transition. The Gophers get a dunk on the other end.
  • Halftime: Minnesota 38, Missouri 32

Second half

  • Second half starters: Honor, Tonje, East, Carter, Butler.
  • Minnesota starts the half on a 4-0 start. A technical foul is issued on MU and Garcia capitalizes off the free throws. It’s a 10-point lead for the Gophers.
  • Lead expands 14-point lead and Dennis Gates finally calls a timeout. This one doesn’t feel like its going to end in the Tigers favor.
  • Jordan Butler gets his first points with a bucket underneath the basketball. After an Aidan Shaw block, Honor splashes a 3-pointer. Minnesota 46, Missouri 37.
  • Butler again from a nice pass from Caleb Grill. Missouri has now cut that 14-point deficit in half. 15:26 left in the half.
  • Caleb Grill just got tossed out of the game. Minnesota hits four free throws. Gophers up 53-39 on the Tigers.
  • Just too many mistakes on the defensive end for the Tigers. Minnesota is on a 10-0 scoring run. The Tigers are going to need to find a 17-point comeback in less than 12 minutes.
  • Mizzou is getting beat on the boards 32-18.
  • Nick Honor ends the Tigers scoring drought with a 3-pointer. He’s the Tigers second leading scorer with nine points. Noah Carter leads the way with 10.
  • Honor again! The lead is now cut to 12 with under ten to play.
  • Hello Curt Lewis. He gets in and scores. Trent Pierce on the next possession cuts it to single digits.
  • Noah Carter with a three-point play! Minnesota 65, Mizzou 59. 5:21 left in the game.
  • Mizzou is on a 20-6 run.
  • Trent Pierce drives to the bucket and finishes with a foul. Its a four-point game at the barn!!!
  • Anthony Robinson cuts it to two!!!
  • A huge 10 second violation gives Mizzou the ball back. Tamar Bates got fouled on a 3-pointer. He knocks down all three. Minnesota 67, Mizzou 66.
  • Bates gets fouled on the next offensive possession. He knocks down one. We are tied at 67.
  • Minnesota knocks down a free throw and the Gophers are back up one.
  • One shot if left. 16 seconds. Minnesota 68, Mizzou 67. Timeout Missouri.
  • Sean East II gives Missouri the lead with under 10 seconds to play he was fouled in the process. Mizzou takes the lead. 70-68!!!!
  • Final!!!!! Missouri 70, Minnesota 68. Mizzou ends on a 31-9 run and Sean East II come away as the hero. Missouri moves to 2-1.

Seam Game Info

Time: 8:00 PM CT

Date: Thursday, November 16, 2023

Location: Williams Arena

TV: Big 10 Network

Pregame updates

The Projected Starters


G: Nick Honor

G: Sean East II

G: Caleb Grill

F: Noah Carter

C: Connor Vanover


G: Braeden Carrington

G: Elijah Hawkins

F: Dawson Garcia

F: Isaiah Ihnen

F: Joshua Ola-Joseph

Get to know Minnesota

Minnesota v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

In the past four years, the Golden Gophers have experienced their worst stretch of basketball since the mid-1980s before legendary coach Clem Haskins took the program to another level. Ever since Haskins left in the late 90’s, the Gophers have been a mid-level program with Dan Monson, Tubby Smith, and Rick Pitino’s son, Richard, frequently appearing in NIT and NCAA Tournament, including taking home the NIT crown in 2014.

After Pitino was fired in 2021, Ben Johnson took over the program. A former college basketball player himself at Northwestern (1999-2001) and Minnesota (2002-04), Johnson got into the coaching ranks following his playing days spending time as a GA with Dayton before becoming an assistant at Northern Iowa, Nebraska, Xavier, and under Pitino.

He took over the Gophers with an uphill battle to climb for the 21-22 as the team lost Both Gach, Brandon Johnson, Gabe Kalscheur, Jamal Mashburn, Liam Robbins, Marcus Carr...SO BASICALLY THEIR WHOLE ROSTER in a matter of a year. With a team of transfers including Jamison Battle, Payton Willis (who came back), and E.J. Stephens, Johnson managed to squeeze out 13 wins for the 2021-22 season, before essentially losing three of his four leading scorers and finishing with just nine wins for the 2022-23 season.

This year, the Gophers are off to a hot 2-0 start. They got cooking by beating Bethune-Cookman 80-60 in their season opener before dropping 102 points on UTSA at the barn. In its 26-point victory over the Roadrunners from San Antonio, Minnesota shot 48.3% from behind the arc off of 14 of 29 shooting.

The Golden Gophers also got to the free throw line attempting 34 shots from the charity strike, but just converted at an 82.4% rate. 36 of their 43 rebounds came on the defensive side.

“Minnesota is a more physical team. I think that’s a characteristic of a Big 10 program,” Gates said.

Dawson Garcia has been the man for the Gophers. The Minnesotan native spent some time at Marquette and North Carolina before coming back home and leading the Gophers in scoring last season. This year he’s off to a hot start scoring 23 against Bethune-Cookman and 22 against UTSA. He’s also grabbed a total of 20 rebounds, nine assist and three blocks to open up his 23-24 campaign.

Isaiah Ihnen tallied a career-high 20 points against the Roadrunners, which included going five-of-five from behind the arc while grabbing six boards. Joshua Ola-Joseph is another player from last year's Gophers team growing within the program as he scored 12 his last time out, while Cam Christie, the brother of current L.A. Laker Max Christie, recorded 18 points while dishing out four assists off the bench. Christie’s assist totals were second to Elijah Hawkins’ eight as the two-time All-MEAC transfer from Howard tallied eight points and 10 boards.

3 Keys to Victory

  1. Shutdown Dawson Garcia

Garcia stands at 6-foot-11, 230 pounds and is, and has been, the heart and soul for this Gophers team the last two seasons. Last season we saw Missouri struggle with going up against dominant big men especially on the road: Colin Castleton, Johni Broome, Tolu Smith, and the nail on the coffin of the 2022-23 season, Tosan Evbuomwan. Garcia could attack from pretty much anywhere, he can make 3s too if he wants. Whether it’s Carter, Shaw, Martin or Butler, not letting him get going is key if Mizzou wants to come out victorious.

2. Limit Free Throw Opportunities

One thing Minnesota does well is its ability to get to the free throw line. On a per game basis, the Gophers rank second in the nation in free throws made per game, and fifth in free throws attempted. Missouri averaging around 21 fouls per game so far this season. You can’t go on the road and allow teams to get many opportunities from the charity strike, which is something that Minnesota has excelled in through its first two games and Gates knows that.

“We can’t have them double us and have more free throws made than we even attempt,” Gates said.

3. Unleash Connor Vanover

“Free Connor Vanover” is something that Dennis Gates said following Mizzou’s victory over SIU-Edwardsville on Monday. Finally, we get to see what the 7-foot-5 forward is all about. We don’t know how much time he will get, but Gates has been excited about him finally retuning to the court.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what he does in this system,” Gates said. “This is his first time playing in this system, it’s not a secret. This is his first game back. But ultimately for him, I don’t want him to make home runs; I want to play simple and stay within himself and ultimately allow the game to come to him.”

The Gophers are a big team in terms of size and Vanover will help aid the Tigers in grabbing rebounds, while also adding a plus on the offensive side. Right before the season started, Gates mentioned how there is no contested shot for Vanover.

“He’s been practicing which is tremendous for him to continue to do it. It wasn’t like he was, you know, not able to practice so he’s been there every step of the way,” Gates said. “He’s been coaching his behind off in our last three games. He’s been intuitive mentally and emotionally.”

Game Prediction

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

KenPom Prediction: Missouri 71, Minnesota 70

My Prediction: Missouri 76, Minnesota 68

Like Memphis, Minnesota is a tough early test for this team in November. Last season we didn’t see it until the Tigers travelled to Wichita State. It’ll be interesting to see how well Mizzou can match up to Minnesota’s size as well as if it can limit a big man like Garcia. Missouri is going to have to play clean basketball defensively and fight all night on the offensive and defensive glass. If the Tigers can get that going and not allow its offense to go ice cold, then it’s very likely that Mizzou will leave Williams Arena with a victory.

Five Fan Questions

  1. How many 3-pointers will Connor Vanover have?
  2. Who will win the free throw battle?
  3. Who will lead the team in block shots and steals?
  4. Who will have the first dunk?
  5. How many points will Sean East II score?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.