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The quest to play 40 minutes of clean, efficient Missouri basketball

Consistency is a fickle thing that continues to elude this group, and the season won’t turn around until that trend changes.

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

Everybody wants consistency.

Consistent income. Consistent career success. Consistent affection from others. Consistent food. Consistent weather.

People like consistency when it comes to their sports teams as well. You don’t generally want to watch your school score 80 points one night and then 55 the next, or win the battle on the glass by 10+ and then lose it by 15+ in the following game.

On that point, coaches across America would also all agree. Every elite team that has gone down in the history books of college basketball has had at least one thing in common: Consistency.

For the Missouri basketball team, consistency—or a lack thereof—has been the story of the season.

It all started during a Friday night date with Memphis. Mizzou opened up a 14-point first half lead, but the visiting Tigers controlled the second half en route to a convincing 70-55 win.

The Tiger offense (and defense) again faltered against Minnesota, as Gates’ bunch faced a 20-point deficit with just over 11 minutes remaining. But, the offense came to life thanks to a variety of Tigers that sparked the scoring, and a 31-9 run to close the game showed exactly what this 2023-24 Mizzou team was capable of.

Of course, following that emotional road win came a letdown performance against winless Jackson State. Mizzou then found itself trailing against South Carolina State by double-figures in the first half before it absolutely eviscerated the Bulldog defense for the remainder of the game.

The victories over Pittsburgh and Wichita State ensued, both of which were fairly complete performances that appeared to serve as a turning point in the season. The Tigers delivered a gutsy performance at The Phog that was impressive, continuing a trend of improved play.

Then, the mid-December blues hit. Mizzou struggled on the defensive end against Seton Hall and Illinois, allowing a combined 190 points against those teams. The beginning to SEC play has been similarly riddled with cold shooting stretches, lapses in defensive cohesion and late-game struggles.

“I would say that, consistently, we’re messing up the small things, whether that’s getting a rebound and stopping them from getting second chance point or getting loose balls,” Nick Honor said. “We’re really right there. We just have to be consistent in what we are doing.”

Inconsistency is a plague on the house of Dennis Gates right now, and while there are potential solutions to that issue, time is running out for this 2023-24 squad. Sean East’s season-long attempt to be named the most improved player in the SEC has not been enough to lead this team out of the conference’s cellar. A 30-ball from Tamar Bates wasn’t enough to take down Florida.

In examining the rest of the roster, it’s hard to pinpoint who could step up down the stretch. The struggles of Honor and Noah Carter have been unexpected and can be labeled as major causes for this roller coaster ride of a season. John Tonje’s injury took away an expected contributor, and Caleb Grill’s injury was perhaps even more damming given the visible spark that he provided this unit. The freshmen are too raw to make a major impact, and no other bench player appears to be stepping up into a larger role.

In the end, you can only deal with the cards that you are dealt, and Gates just does not have a roster that is capable of offsetting its persistent issues.

The only consistent aspects of this group right now are Bates, East and—ironically enough—the team’s inconsistency. For Gates and Co. to turn things around, that list will need to grow.