Amid hearing the news that Sean East II was going to be absent from Wednesday night’s game vs. Texas A&M, the Missouri Tigers needed someone else to take over the offense against a high-flying Texas A&M Aggies team. Luckily for the Tigers, graduate guard Nick Honor was ready to step up to the plate and put on his best performance of the season.
With East’s (hopefully) temporary departure from the lineup, Honor became the primary ball handler for this game and it seemed to be a welcome confidence boost that carried itself over to Honor’s ability to generate shots. Honor posted a 4-8 split with nine points in the first half, leading the team in all of those categories.
Head Coach Dennis Gates has preached the “next man up” mentality to this group and Honor took that to heart on Wednesday, despite having one of the best defenders in the SEC in Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford locked onto him for the majority of the contest. While the Aggies were able to pull away late, Honor continued to provide the fire the Tigers needed to hang in there and take the punches for a substantial amount of time.
One part of Honor’s game that has seemingly been missing is the floater he was so keen to shoot during the 2022-23 season, but that floater seemed to re-emerge Wednesday as he hit two tough ones during the game.
Honor was usually the fourth option on last year’s team, eclipsing the double digit plateau in shots just twice, as opposed to the nine times he has achieved the feat this year. While that fact has contributed to more fruitful results for Honor in the terms of his total stats, it has caused him to take a 3% dip in overall field goal percentage.
Last night, however, Honor shot 8-16 from the field, good for a 50% clip, and showed off the efficiency that proved to be so vital to last year’s team, which made it to the NCAA Tournament’s final 32.
Prior to the Minnesota game, Gates called Honor out in reference to his shot selection, and it seems those words resonated with Honor tonight.
“He cares what his teammates think,” Gates said. “He cares if he’s viewed as a guy that’s shooting too much. He just doesn’t shoot enough for me.”
Honor’s money shot is his catch-and-shoot three-pointer, which was very prevalent in last night’s contest and it paid dividends as he shot 3-8 from beyond the arc on the night.
“Coach has been telling me to be more aggressive in practice lately,” Honor said. “It’s all about confidence, every time I shoot I feel like it’s going to in.”
A big reason that Honor was able to find himself open for the majority of the game was the Aggie guards’ willingness to be aggressive on passes in the air, leaving people like him wide open for looks in the mid-range and from three-point range.
Texas A&M Head Coach Buzz Williams noticed himself the change in Nick Honor’s role within the team with Sean East out of the game.
“[Honor] became more of a spacer in the lineup with [East]’s emergence,” Williams said. “But tonight [Honor] went back to being the ball handler and it changed the way they played.”
Williams also alluded to how big of a loss Sean East is for the Missouri lineup and compared it to his own team.
“Losing [East] is like if we lost [Wade Taylor IV],” Williams said. “He means a lot to that rotation.”
Some could argue that Honor hasn’t stepped up enough for this Tiger team this year and that could be a big reason why this team is currently sitting at 8-15 with an 0-10 record in conference, but last night was a big step in the right direction for a season that needs salvaging in some form or fashion.