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Live Game Thread and Preview: Mizzou begins the 2023-24 campaign against Arkansas Pine-Bluff

Year Two of the Dennis Gates era is underway as the Tigers and Golden Lions go head-to-head.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Princeton vs Missouri Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri 101 | Arkansas Pine-Bluff 79


1st Half Notes

  • Sean East II hits the first bucket of the game, a three-pointer late in the shot clock. He proceeded to talk a little trash and give a bump to APB guard Rashad Williams.
  • Jesus Carralero Martin has been very active on the defensive end thus far. He seems like he’ll play bigger than he is all season long, but he’s athletic enough to play on the perimeter.
  • It’s Sean East time. He’s hit two 3-pointers thus far, and Nick Honor followed him up with a nice pump fake and pull-up from mid-range.
  • 17:03: Early timeout from Bozeman as Mizzou goes on a quick 5-0 run. The pace of this game is certainly to the Tigers’ liking, and they are letting it fly from the floor while playing some pesky defense.
  • Carralero Martin with a great backdoor feed to a cutting Sean East. Very easy to see why he made the starting lineup given his play thus far. He’s been the most impressive player on the floor.
  • Kaleb Brown was the first man off the bench for Mizzou, and freshman guard Anthony Robinson II was the second. Expect to see plenty of guys out there for Gates tonight.
  • Aidan Shaw coming into the game for Noah Carter. Sean East and Caleb Grill are the only starters left on the floor.
  • Similar to last season’s squad, you can visibly tell that this is a close-knit team. They’re all coming up to talk to freshman Anthony Robinson II after he picked up a foul.
  • Video review for a blocking call on APB in which Aidan Shaw was flailing while trying to create some space.
  • Tamar Bates checks into the game for the first time, making it eight players that have seen the floor in the first six minutes.
  • Aidan Shaw doing exactly what Dennis Gates demanded of him over this offseason. He just snatched two offensive boards from the hands of APB defenders.
  • Golden Lions are red-hot from behind the arc to start this one. 5-for-7 following an and-one three-pointer.
  • Tamar Bates with a pure-looking shot from the wing. His catch-and-shoot routine is as good as it gets.
  • 11:30: Carralero Martin with another dime that turns into a Noah Carter bucket. The former Campbell Camel has stolen the show thus far.
  • Mizzou is already in the bonus at the 9:58 mark.
  • Gates has been able to employ a smaller lineup due to APB’s lack of size. Mabor Majak, Trent Pierce and Jordan Butler have yet to see the floor with Carter and Martin playing as bigs.
  • Carralero Martin has some of the highest basketball IQ I have ever seen from a college player.
  • Caleb Grill is beginning to feel the rhythm of this offense. He gained some confidence from the made three and just got fouled on another attempt.
  • Trent Pierce makes it ten players that have seen the floor for Mizzou thus far.
  • 7:47: Sean East II picks up his second foul of the game.
  • Trent Pierce with a great block to get the Tigers out in transition. With his wingspan and athleticism, he can certainly be a shot-alterer on the defensive end.
  • Carralero Martin with his second foul of the game. APB has found more success in slashing to the rim in recent possessions.
  • 5:19: Game has slowed down a bit with both teams reaching the bonus. The more lethargic pace has favored the Golden Lions in recent minutes, as they have cut the Mizzou lead to just six.
  • Aidan Shaw is playing a noticeably physical brand of basketball this season. He’s no longer a freshman.
  • Caleb Grill landed on his elbow on a hard drive and is on the floor clutching it. It’s certainly been a physical game thus far with the amount of fouls and players on the floor.
  • 2:48: Nick Honor unfazed on that three-pointer with two defenders near him in the corner.
  • Tamar Bates showing that he is much more than just a shooter with a nice jab-cross into a euro-step lay-in around a defender, resulting in an and-one. A high-level move from the Indiana transfer. Man, that was a lot of hyphens, I apologize.
  • This team is INTENSE. I’ve counted at least four different players yelling after a made bucket at either APB players, its bench or the student section for various reasons.
  • Bates again with another great drive, showing that he is just a pure scorer at heart.

2nd Half Notes

  • Aidan Shaw starts on the floor in the second half in place of Carrlero Martin, who has three fouls.
  • Noah Carter just sent an APB guard to the floor in the paint. Can’t get caught on a switch with Mr. Iowa down low.
  • Nick Honor with one of the friendlier home-rim bounces you will ever see. If anybody is going to get that bounce, it’s him.
  • Trent Pierce receiving the most minutes out of any freshman thus far. Gates clearly trusts him to contribute early and often.
  • 13:27: The decision to run Honor and East II together on the floor has really paid off in this game. East looks very comfortable playing off the ball and has more freedom to create.
  • Nick Honor’s perimeter defense is beautiful to watch.
  • Freshman 7-footer Jordan Butler makes it 11 Tigers that have seen the floor. Pierce and Butler are on the floor at the same time right now.
  • Bates found Butler wide-open after an APB defender crashed to help on his post-up. Butler’s first bucket may be his easiest of his career.
  • Tamar Bates just caught a BODY streaking down the lane for a dunk. Between him and Grill, Mizzou has some athletes that are also shooters.
  • Kaleb Brown with a great find on a backdoor pass to Sean East II. Cutting has been sharp from this team in this game.
  • JUCO transfer guard Curt Lewis gets into the game for the first time.
  • Sean East II fouls out with his fifth foul. He finished with 21 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
  • Anthony Robinson has played some solid defense out there tonight. He’s been great in close out situations and has held his own physically.
  • Jordan Butler caught sleeping on an inbounds play. Freshman mistakes are bound to happen.
  • But, he does get Mizzou to the century mark with his first made 3-pointer.

Pregame Updates

  • Your starters for the night: Nick Honor, Sean East II, Caleb Grill, Jesus Carralero Martin and Noah Carter.
  • A banner was raised during the pregame for last season’s NCAA Tournament appearance.
  • Far superior pre-game music and video this season.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many 3-pointers will Noah Carter hit?
  3. Will Mizzou have over or under 10 forced turnovers?
  4. How many points will Nick Honor have?
  5. Which players will score in double-figures?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.

Rejoice, Missouri basketball fans.

Year Two of the Dennis Gates is finally here, and with it is sure to come a plethora of memorable moments to rival the magical 2022-23 campaign. With a handful of key returners and an influx of promising freshman and transfers, the sky appears to be the limit for another Mizzou team that will be looking so sustain its success from last season.

You can catch up on all of our preseason coverage here.

To open the 2023-24 season, the Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lions will come to COMO. Solomon Bozeman is entering his third season as head coach following a 10-21 (6-12 in the SWAC) record last year. At just 35 years of age, Bozeman is among the youngest coaches in Division-I basketball and is an up-and-coming name after successful assistant coaching gigs at Oral Roberts and his alma mater, Arkansas Little-Rock.

The Golden Lions will be looking to wash away the taste of a nine-game season-ending losing streak earlier this year by pulling off a monumental upset on Monday night. Arkansas Pine-Bluff did lose some key pieces from last year’s squad, but but three of the team’s five leading scorers from last season are back, and the program figures to take a step froward in year two under Bozeman.

Buckle up, Tiger fans, because basketball is back at Mizzou Arena.

Game Info

Time: 7:00 p.m. CST

Date: Monday, Nov. 6, 2023

Location: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.

TV: SEC Network +

Preseason Opponent Preview: Arkansas Pine-Bluff

The Starters


PG: Nick Honor (Grad)
SG: Caleb Grill (Grad)
SF: John Tonje (Grad)
PF: Noah Carter (Grad)
C: Connor Vanover (Grad)

Notable Sixth Man: Sean East II (Grad)

Arkansas Pine-Bluff

PG: Trejon Ware (JR)
SG: Kylen Milton (JR)
SF: Joe French (Grad)
PF: Ismael Plet (JR)
C: Robert Lewis (SOPH)

Notable Sixth Man: Lonnell Martin Jr. (SR)

*These are projected starting lineups

Get To Know Arkansas Pine-Bluff

The Golden Lions’ basketball history is not riddled with success. APB has only finished above .500 in a single season twice (2009-10, 2012-13) since its inaugural campaign in 1997. The program has only qualified for the NCAA Tournament once (2013) and fell in the first round as a No. 16 seed.

That being said, the idea is that a young coach like Bozeman with Arkansas ties can inject some life into the program and steer the ship in the right direction. However, with the losses from last year’s team, positive signs may not be abound this year.

Gone are guard Shaun Doss Jr. and forward Chris Green, who combined to score a shade under 30 points per game and were do-it-all players for the Golden Lions. Junior guard Kyle Milton returns as the leader of this team after posting 13.2 PPG (2nd on team), 4.1 RPG (3rd on team), 4.2 APG (team-high) and 30.8 MPG (2nd on team) last season. Milton figures to take a leadership role on this roster from the perimeter and should contend for all-conference honors, but he will need help.

Junior forward Ismael Plet led Arkansas Pine-Bluff with 5.1 RPG and should holds things down in the painted area, but sophomore Robert Lewis will be counted on to take a step forward following a promising freshman campaign.

The X-factors for this team may be transfers Lonnell Martin Jr. (Montana) and Joe French (Bethune-Cookman). Martin started 30 games for the Grizzlies last season while French averaged 11.2 PPG over a three-year span with the Wildcats and was named to the 2019-20 MEAC All-Rookie Team.

Arkansas Pine-Bluff did not do much exceptionally well last season as a team, but it did excel in forcing turnovers. The Golden Lions created turnovers on 21.4% of opposing team’s possessions (31st in the nation), forcing 473 total last season.

“They’re a tough team,” Gates said of APB. “They’re not going to do anything but come in and give us a fight.”

APB did not take down a high-major foe last season (0-6) and will also play against Minnesota, Gonzaga, UConn and Oklahoma this season.

3 Keys To The Game

  1. Take advantage of the size matchup

Unlike last year, Mizzou actually has the chance to enjoy a size advantage in a plethora of games this season. That will certainly be the case in this one, as APB does not have a player that measures in at above 6-foot-9, while Mizzou has three guys (Vanover, Mabor Majak, Jordan Butler) that come in at 7-foot or above.

Thus, the constant competition for rebounds should favor Mizzou rather heavily, and while Vanover is not necessarily a post-up player, the Tigers should still enjoy a sizable advantage in paint points.

2. Take the ball out of Milton’s hands

It will be easier said than done considering that much of Bozeman’s offense figures to run through his battle-tested guard, but Milton is the main threat in this game. At 6-foot-4, Milton has great size on the perimeter and is capable of being effective on the glass and on the defensive end (1.4 SPG last season) as well. Much like Southern Indiana in the opener last season, Arkansas Pine-Bluff is playing with house money in this one. That means that Milton will be more than happy to put up plenty of shots and try to get hot to keep his team in this one.

3. Manage early season emotions

It’s a struggle for every college basketball team in virtually every season. The excitement and expectations of a new campaign can be a beautiful thing, but they can also prove to be detrimental to a team’s mindset.

“I believe that we have a good shooting team, but we’ll see where out nerves are to begin the game,” Gates said in the final preseason media availability.

Mizzou is fresh off a wildly successful season, and in turn, Gates has set a fairly high bar for his program to meet each year. This team is certainly capable of accomplishing that and more, but they won’t do it all in one night. The transfers don’t need to become household names in game one, Carter doesn’t need to become the face of the offense in the first outing, Shaw doesn’t need to forcibly show his improvement right away, etc, etc.

This is a mature basketball team, so this key should not be too big of a concern, but listening to extensive outside hype will always be the enemy of calm, productive basketball.

Game Prediction

KenPom Prediction: Mizzou 85 | Arkansas Pine-Bluff 61

My Prediction: Mizzou 82 | Arkansas Pine-Bluff 65

On a night in which the Tigers will raise a banner for their 2022-23 NCAA Tournament appearance, all signs point towards a relatively stress-free win for Mizzou in beginning its quest for another. Gates’ team is far more talented and experienced than APB, and they will have what figures to be a raucous home-court advantage at their backs. Milton and Plet are strong players, but unless Martin Jr. or French make major statements in their first game with the Golden Lions, Mizzou should cruise to a win.

With that being said, one must remember that this Missouri team is bringing in a host of new faces to rely upon. Thus, growing pains as the chemistry works itself out within the team are inevitable. With a similar mix of returners and transfers last season, Gates’ crew struggled early on against Southern Indiana and Penn in the first two games. With the pass-heavy, fast-paced offensive style that Gates likes to employ, great communication and knowledge of teammates’ tendencies is mandatory for success. This team might not have that in Week One, and that is perfectly fine.

The talent gap alone should give Mizzou a sizable edge in this game, but don’t be surprised if the Tigers struggle to get going at times in this one. Regardless, this team will be 1-0 going into the Memphis game.

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many 3-pointers will Noah Carter hit?
  3. Will Mizzou have over or under 10 forced turnovers?
  4. How many points will Nick Honor have?
  5. Which players will score in double-figures?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.