Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown both finished with 24 points and Jordan Clarkson chipped in with 11 points and six assists as Missouri went into Bud Walton Arena and pulled off one of the most surprising wins of the SEC season, beating Arkansas 75-71.
This was a huge win for Missouri as they try to put together a resume strong enough to deserve an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers didn’t do much in non-conference play, with nothing notable but a win over UCLA to show for their troubles. Generally speaking, that wouldn’t be an issue. I think Pittsburgh has proven that fact.
The problem is that the Tigers went out and lost some games to some bad teams. Illinois beat them and has since gone on a six-game losing streak. They lost at home to Georgia. They lost at Vanderbilt. The loss at LSU wouldn’t look so bad if the Tigers actually played up to their potential every night.
Now, Arkansas isn’t exactly Kentucky and they aren’t quite Florida. Beating them, even on the road, isn’t the kind of win that will define a resume.
But since Missouri has entered the SEC, they are 3-9 on the road. During that same time frame, Arkansas is 11-1. This win, as much as anything, is a confidence booster. It’s a statement, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Missouri’s next two games: Kentucky at home and at Florida. Those two games are going to make or break their season. Lose them both, and the Tigers may not play another NCAA tournament team the rest of the season.
They get Ole Miss on the road, Arkansas at home and two games against Tennessee. None of those three teams are close to being a lock at this point.
The good news?
Those big games are coming at the right time. Jabari Brown is playing the best basketball of his career over the course of the last five games, averaging 24.4 points while shooting 20-for-29 from three during that stretch. Earnest Ross and Jonathan Williams III are coming off of their best games of the year. And, quite frankly, winning at Arkansas may be a more difficult task than beating Kentucky at home.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.