It was a weird day for Missouri basketball, they kicked off arguably their best player over the course of the season, and then went out and beat a likely NCAA tournament team in South Carolina. Because Mizzou ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
On a lot of levels this game wasn't surprising, I actually marked this down as a win before the season when I was busy drinking the Kool-Aid and thinking Mizzou was going to win seven conference games, and unlike a lot of people, I was pretty high on South Carolina going into the season (pre-season prediction 5th in conference)... but I have never liked SC's ability to go on the road and score points, which, judging by the 37% mark they had on the night, was pretty accurate. Part of it was Missouri's defense, and part of it was the fact South Carolina's offense is bad and doesn't often travel. Keep in mind before the game, SC was only projected to win the game by 5 points, so the fact it was a game isn't a surprise. But still, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
South Carolina Coach Frank Martin: "Real, real happy for Kim and his kids. ... We've been in that situation."— Steve Walentik (@Steve_Walentik) February 17, 2016
Frank Martin is one of the classier coaches in the game. He has his weird moments of intensity where you question his sanity, but everybody loves him. And this is a good reason why. He was genuinely happy for Kim Anderson, as this had a bit of a feel of his last chance. And not that it was, but when you kick off one of your better players for academics when you are facing a real and present APR problem, it leaves a lot of people puzzled to say the least, because it's not as if you can just hide his academics at this point. But they kicked off Wes, beat a tourney team and well, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
How Mizzou beat South Carolina is weird. They didn't shoot well (no surprise), they rebounded well (surprise), Ryan Rosburg continued to play like an All-SEC Center with 18 points and 5 boards (continued surprise), and they did it all without their South Carolina killer Wes Clark (sort of a big surprise). Terrence Phillips stepped up with 15 points and 7 rebounds, plus four assists including a huge assist to K.J. Walton to go up three with 35 seconds to play. Tramaine Isabell played the best half of his life as his 10 first half points brought the necessary energy to keep the Tigers in front for much of the first half. But overall this was a great, energetic win for the young Tigers and allowed Missouri fans to feel good for two games in a row. Which is no small thing considering the last two years as a whole. Really, Missouri fans, enjoy this win.
The Wes Clark Situation caught a lot of people off guard, and considering all that has happened the last few years, maybe it shouldn't have. I'm going to have plenty of time in the next few days to fully dissect what this means for the roster situation going forward. I'm going to have to amend my scholarship breakdown graphic soon, but it appears Wes Clark is no longer apart of the Tigers plans moving forward.
Perhaps this is Kim Anderson being told he's safe and he's taking full control of the program moving forward, and running off who he wants to run off, APR be damned. Perhaps this is a case of Wes Clark putting the fragile APR at too much of a risk and the coaching staff deciding it made more sense to just move on. At this point, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I've got time to try to uncover what happened, and where this takes us, but for now, all you need to worry about is Mizzou has won double digit games this season, something they did not accomplish last year. They're trending up in KenPom as they moved to 168 after the win, something that didn't happen during conference play last year. And they've equaled their win total from a year ago in conference play with five games to play.
Their last five games a year ago? The Tigers went 2-3. Does this mean things are trending up? Well let's hope so.