Missouri Basketball: Tigers handle WashU behind Kobe Brown’s big night

Missouri Basketball faced off against Division lll WashU in an exhibition game. The Tigers used a couple of big runs to rout the Bears.

The Dennis Gates era began unofficially last night as Mizzou and their new-look roster took on WashU. This was the Tigers’ first chance to play against a different team in front of fans with all the new transfers they added. WashU on the other hand was bringing back some veterans from a team that finished the year in the top 25 of the division lll poll. While the competition gap was clear before the game even began, this was a good chance for both teams to try some different lineups while they both get ready for seasons with some expectations at their respective levels.

Prior to tip-off, Mizzou and WashU honored former WashU player Justin Hardy with a video board tribute. Hardy tragically passed away in May with stomach cancer. Charlie Jacob, who is 5th-year guard, decided to come back for another year to honor Hardy’s legacy. Hardy was a leader for this WashU team and his passion for the game of basketball was second to none.

Gates went with an interesting five to start the game tonight as UW Milwaukee transfer DeAndre Gholston got the nod. Gates acknowledged in the postgame that the starting five was chosen at random tonight to keep his players ready. However, it should also be noted that Gates believes this team is very deep and that eight different guys could start. For WashU, they went with a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen.

Mizzou started the game very slow and it was evident, especially in the half-court, that the Tigers were still figuring how to play with one another. Mizzou only brought back three players from last year’s team that finished 137th in KenPom. One of those players was Kobe Brown who was providing the spark for Mizzou offensively early. Brown was also dominating the glass as he appeared to be moving much quicker compared to last season. Despite Brown’s energy on both ends, WashU led 23-20 with eight minutes to go in the half. Gates noted that the team wasn’t great with defensive rotations.

After a timeout at the eight-minute mark by Gates, Mizzou found some rhythm offensively and went on a 15-0 run. The Tigers closed the half up 45-30 and a big part of the run was forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets in transition. Mizzou throughout the first half showed a full-court man-to-man press as well as a zone at the end of the half.

Toward the end of the first half, a couple of the key transfers got going as well. Isiaih Mosley showed his scoring ability with a nice move in the lane as well as a three. Noah Carter also got in the mix after a slow start and displayed some really nice touch around the rim. On defense, Nick Honor and Tre Gomillion were doing an excellent job of pressuring the ball and making the WashU guards uncomfortable.

In the second half, Mizzou once again started slow. WashU actually cut the lead to nine with just over nine minutes to go in the second half after a couple big threes from freshmen Will Grudzinski. However, after a Mizzou timeout, they blew the game back open in part thanks to consecutive threes from D’Moi Hodge. Mizzou added another late run once WashU went deeper into its’ bench and wrapped up the preseason with an 89-61 win.

Kobe Brown finished with 25 points on the night to lead all scorers and Isiaih Mosley was the only other Tiger in double figures with 11. For WashU, Drake Kindsvater finished with 12 to lead the Bears. The team also got productive nights from Grudzinski and Nate Bloedorn as well as a nice defensive effort from freshman point guard Yogi Oliff.

He also zoned in on Kaleb Brown who he said went through some growing pains last season. Kaleb did look noticeably different last night, mainly just the way he was playing. It seems like he is much more comfortable in his role and has a lot more confidence this season.

Finally, Gates said that Ronnie DeGray lll was healthy and just didn’t get any minutes tonight. DeGray is one of the returners for this team, but also has a lot of players that play a similar style or are in a similar position.

It appears that there is a new energy around this program both when it comes to the fans and the basketball that is being played. The Tigers will open their regular season campaign at home against Southern Indiana on Monday. Oh, and the final words of the preseason from Coach Gates: