And ... breathe.
For a long time, it wasn’t pretty. But the Tigers got over the hump.
Mizzou men’s basketball (4-2) came back from a 16-point deficit to defeat South Carolina State 82-59 on Wednesday at Mizzou Arena, avoiding back-to-back upset losses on Norm Stewart Court.
The offense came out stagnant, but a late 18-2 run in the first half, plus a show from a true freshman in the second period, saved the Tigers.
Here are three takeaways from the win:
Anthony Robinson’s highlight slam
True freshman Anthony Robinson took off down the court. Considering his slender 6-foot-2 frame, surely a layup was coming.
The freshman rattled the rim, throwing down an eye-popping dunk.
Moments earlier, he dropped a close-range jumper to break a 39-all tie. Moments after, Robinson broke into the paint again, made a layup and drew a foul. He converted the free throw as part of his game-changing sequence.
— Mizzou Hoops (@MizzouHoops) November 23, 2023
Missouri went on a 22-0 run over 5:08 of game time. A large part of that could be attributed to the freshman.
He scored seven points and had two assists, one steal and one block during the game-sealing spell. The freshman was involved in just about every buildup to a bucket in that time.
The run that changed the game
Aidan Shaw sprawled out on the court, chasing after a loose ball that appeared destined to end up in the hands of SC State.
Shaw’s dive — headfirst with his fingers stretched out — allowed him to tip the ball to Sean East II, who fed it to Connor Vanover in the corner. The 7-foot big man (who missed some time earlier this season) dropped a 3.
The Tigers trailed by 14 before that.
It sparked an 18-2 run in 4:29 of game time that helped save a shocker.
Vanover came up with a block, as did Shaw. Those both turned into Nick Honor 3s.
Honor added another highlight before the run was done, feeding a lob pass to Vanover at the rim. Shaw also slammed home a dunk.
Until the run, the Tigers’ future looked bleak. After the break, they cruised home.
Mizzou’s offense struggles early
Mizzou’s ball movement has too often been lethargic through six games this year.
On Wednesday, it was nonexistent out the gates.
The Tigers were almost incapable of setting foot in the paint for most of the first half — or breaching the 3-point line for that matter.
Mizzou mostly toiled along the perimeter, draining the shot clock more often than has perhaps ever been the case in the Gates era. The Tigers fired off hopeful — or hopeless — 3s as the buzzer sounded, and many of those shots clanked off the rim.
Outside of Honor, the Tigers were 1-of-7 from deep in the first half, as they went into the break down 37-35.
Adding salt to the wound: The Tigers’ 16-point deficit featured some of the same turnover issues as Sunday’s shocking upset defeat at the hands of Jackson State.
The Tigers had four turnovers in the opening four minutes. They recovered, slightly, to finish the game with 12.
The Star has partnered with the Columbia Daily Tribune for coverage of Missouri Tigers athletics.