Not a lot of pre-game analysis here. My rule is that anytime the school has a guy's name in it (like Tennessee-Martin) they should not be a serious threat. I'm sure someone will come up with an exception rather quickly but I can't think of one.
Steve Walentik random fact of the day: Jason James of Tennessee-Martin is the second youngest coach in America. This is really only half a fact because he could not tell me the youngest two.
Steve and I are trying to think of a school with a person's name in it that is good. The only thing we've come up with so far is Brigham Young.
I'll go on record: I think Laurence Bowers is going to lead this team in scoring. And probably in rebounding too.
They just unfurled the Elite Eight and Big 12 tournament championship banners from a year ago. Nice to have something worth hanging in the arena that is from a team that actually PLAYED in this arena.
It's a real game so I have to make a prediction. I'll say Tigers win 88-71.
Starting five is Taylor, Tiller, Ramsey, Safford and English.
Safford will jump center against a big man named Mpondo. Safford wins the tip. Tiller drives and nearly travels. Safford misses the jumper. This team will be at its best when JT is going to the rack.
Turnover before the Skyhawks can get to midcourt.
Ramsey scores the first two points of the season in close.
Safford with a steal. Nice break and Zaire Taylor misses the layup. He's going to have to be better from three feet and in.
Mpondo misses and Tiller rebounds. English misses, but Safford taps it home. Good aggressive start from Safford. You'd like to see the forwards play well in this matchup.
Brutal shooting from inside two feet. Mpondo misses a dunk. On the other end, Tiller misses a layup. Missouri is now 1-3 on layups.
Tigers get burned on a nice spin move by Cataurius Taylor. Yes, that's his name.
English misses again. He's really struggling right now. Ramsey misses a three. I hope we never see him take that shot again.
Safford with a dish to Ramsey for two. That shot, he can take all day. That was a two footer.
Drive and a bucket for Martin. Ramsey with a pretty spin move and a shot off the glass. He's got six already and has made every shot he's taken from closer than 20 feet. Hopefully that's an indication of where he should shoot from.
Three goes in for the Skyhawks' Benzor Simmons. This team might have the coolest collection of first names in America.
Safford commits a foul on a breakaway. Free throws good as Denmon and Bowers replace Tiller and Safford. Tigers down a point.
English drives and hits the floater. Good move. Get in close and maybe the shot will start to fall.
TV timeout: Tigers lead 10-9
English was beaten up top, but the Skyhawks throw it out of bounds. Three turnovers. Bowers making good on my prediction. He hits a 10 footer. Tigers up three.
English with a steal. Great help defense. Got away with a charge, but Taylor can't make it count, missing from the baseline.
Another Tiger steal, this one by Ramsey. English will go the line. Good to see him going to the line rather than continuing to shoot from 20 feet if it isn't going down. He makes both as Paul and Moore come in. Zaire Taylor is the only starter on the floor less than six minutes in.
Missed shot ,but the Skyhawks tip home the board. Martin going zone on the other end. Denmon shoots over it. No good, but Bowers somehow gets the rebound and scores. Really really productive player.
Great entry pass. Steve Moore scores and goes to the line. I don't know how good he'll be this year, but I do know he will be a WHOLE lot better than he was a year ago. Free throw good. Tigers up six.
Mike Dixon in. The entire second unit is out there.
Mpondo gets another rebound and another basket. Missouri has to do a better job on the glass.
Denmon drives, but misses from five feet. Good drive, bad finish. Rebound apparently out of bounds off the Skyhawks.
Good look by Bowers to Denmon for three. Laurence Bowers, I'll tell you right now, you're gonna read a lot about him on here. Really like what he brings.
Another tip in bucket for Martin. The Skyhawks have nine board, but at least five of them are on offense.
TV timeout: 22-17 Mizzou
Dixon causes a carry with good defense. That's six turnovers on the Skyhawks.
Paul throws it down to Bowers for the bucket. That's just throwing it up there and letting your man go get it.
Tiller ready to come back in, he will replace Denmon.
Dixon open for three off the inbounds. There it goes. He's gonna be the first guard off the bench by the Illinois game.
Skyhawks split a pair of free throws. Mizzou only has two team fouls. Great ball movement gives Dixon another open three, but it won't fall.
Steal by Paul and a layup. Another steal by Dixon. Charge on Ramsey. Good call, even though the crowd doesn't agree (it would have been the first block/charge that's gone against the home team that the crowd has EVER agreed with).
Layup off the press for Martin. The defense has been okay, but not great.
Tiller turns it over and then commits a foul. Did get his first floorburn of the season though.
English and Taylor return and the starting five is back out there fresh.
Tiller traps a man in the corner and gets a steal. His defense is just tenacious. I kind of forgot how good he was on that end. Taylor is fouled and will go to the line.
TV timeout: 29-20 Missouri
Taylor goes one for two from the line. Good sign, in my opinion: Tiller and Taylor have combined for one point and Missouri is up by ten.
Could be more with Keith Ramsey going to the line (then again, maybe not). He splits two, so that's good.
Turnover on the Tigers as English travels. Mike Anderson just hollered, "Kimmie, shoot the ball." That's not something coach will have to tell him twice.
Bowers gets two blocks on one possession now.
Good entry pass from Safford to Bowers. Justin has two assists and Bowers has eight points on 4-4 shooting.
Bowers could have had a third block there, but looked like he backed away.
Kim English is hurt. He just went diving for a ball and he is lying on the court. Now he's up. Maybe some Paul Pierce theatrics there.
Moore and Denmon in. Moore just picked up a foul. His second and the team's sixth.
Open three goes down and the Skyhawks are within six on a 7-2 run.
Tiller ends that with a drive and pullup from 10 feet. Now Denmon gets an offensive rebound off the Tiller steal and Missouri is back up ten just like that.
Moore gets a piece of that one for the Tigers' fourth block. Steve Moore has made a nice contribution. He's not a star, but he's played well tonight. Bowers is fouled on a loose ball rebound.
Ten players have played for Missouri. Ten players have scored.
Bowers makes two free throws. He's got ten.
Turnover on Martin. Dixon feeds Denmon. He takes a HARD foul and crashes to the floor. If Denmon had any doubt he could take a hit and be okay, he just got over that. Wow.
TV timeout: 39-27 Missouri on a 6-0 run and counting
Denmon misses both. That shouldn't happen. The guards have to be better than that from the line.
Three goes down and just like that the lead is back to nine.
Dixon off on a three. Not a good shot. Tigers just 2-9 from deep. Martin misses one as well.
Denmon knocks one in. He's not a great outside shooter, but in rhythm he can hit it.
Another three is off for Martin, but they get ANOTHER board and score. The Tigers aren't going to be great on the boards, but they need to be a little better.
Denmon misses a three. Like I said, he's not a great outside shooter. He doesn't need to have taken five in the first half.
Skyhawks still in a zone. Denmon takes another three. That's six. That's too many. Only Kimmie English should be shooting that often from deep. Bowers gets the board on this one and goes to the line. He makes both and has hit all eight of his shots.
Paul and Tiller are in.
Bowers with a steal and a beautiful outlet pass, but Moore can't finish. Seriously, what does Bowers NOT do?
A missed three, a rebound to Tiller and he is fouled. The Tigers are 9-13 as JT goes to the stripe. He makes two.
Dixon with a steal. Bowers from 19. it goes. This kid's gonna be a freaking star.
Skyhawks miss a three. Tigers get the last possession. Bowers finally misses a shot, but Moore tips it in and Missouri goes to halftime with half a hundred.
Halftime Score: Missouri 50, Tennessee-Martin 33
The second half starts with a drive and a bucket from Tiller. Typical Tiller line: 6 points, 3 boards, 2 assists.
Safford with a block,, the Tigers' fifth. English misses two from three point range. The Tigers are 3-14 from deep. It's fine against Tennessee-Martin, but it's not going to work against the better teams on the schedule.
Safford no good from three. Need to reign in the jumpers.
Simmons hits a three for UTM. Lead down to 14. Safford misses. Ramsey boards and scores. If Safford doesn't start operating within 12 feet of the basket now and again, he's going to find minutes hard to come by.
Tiller's shot is blocked. He's down on the floor. Looks like he might be grabbing a hamstring. I don't know, but he's still rolling around on the floor. Doctor is looking at his knee. I think he just might have banged it against someone.
The Tiller rule is used for the first time: UT Martin picks Ramsey to shoot the free throws. The Tiller rule is used on Tiller. And it works because Ramsey misses both. But the Tigers get the rebound. Ramsey misses a layup, but Denmon tips it in.
Safford misses another jumper. Anderson has a ton of people who can take that shot. What he needs is guys who can get it inside. Bowers and Ramsey have done that so far.
THERE is what I want Safford to do. Cuts to the bucket, takes a pass, lays it in and gets fouled.
TV timeout: 58-40 Mizzou
Safford makes the freebie.
Honestly, this game doesn't feel a whole lot different than the exhibitions. The Tigers are playing a million players and they're playing a team that's clearly not as talented as they are. Just a workmanlike effort so far.
Marcus Denmon does like to shoot. H'e now taken 11 shots. No other Tiger has more than seven.
Bowers and Dixon in the game. Taylor drives and draws the foul. This is the time he needs to take over. English is off, Tiller is hurt, Denmon isn't making much, tie for Zaire to assert himself. He makes both free throws. Tigers 14-20 from the stripe.
Taylor goes one on five and is called for a charge. That's his first foul and he will sit for Paul. Got to get through these next few minutes with Ramsey as the only starter on the floor.
Ramsey with his third foul. The Tigers are reeling a little bit right now. Ramsey sits for Moore. No starters in there. Free throws are missed.
Steve Moore bangs in an 18 footer. I can't imagine it's a shot Anderson wants to see him take much, but it went in. He's got a career high seven.
Paul tried the alley oop to Bowers and threw it off the rim.
Dixon scores. Paul gets a steal. Alley oop to Bowers. This one works and Bowers throws it down reverse. Word on Tiller is a right foot injury, return unlikely.
The story of this game has just become the health of JT Tiller. Nothing else much matters right now. That's Missouri's best player and their leader. They can't lose him for any length of time.
Long three misses and Denmon rebounds. Dixon with an airball. Bowers clears and Paul misses. The one thing this team needs to prove it can do is shoot. I'm fine with everything else right now, but they have to have somebody that can make a shot.
Nice entry pass from Bowers to Moore and Moore misses from about eight inches. That's difficult to do.
Blocked shot by Moore, Dixon turns it into a layup on the other end. Suddenly, and I'm not sure how it happened, the Tigers are up 22.
Paul really looks for Bowers on that oop. This one is knocked away. They're 1-3 so far. Triple goes down on the other end. This Simmons kid has 21 points.
Timeout Mike Anderson.
Nice pass from Bowers to Ramsey for the layup. Keith is the third Tiger in double figures at 11. On the other end, Bowers grabs rebound number six and brings the ball upcourt. Another assist to Ramsey. That's the third for Bowers.
Ramsey and Bowers are a combined 12-16
TV timeout: 73-52 Tigers
Taylor splashes a three and Missouri matches its biggest lead at 22.
Just got word Tiller is definitely out for the rest of this game. Hope to know more.
TV timeout: 76-56 Mizzou
At this point, this game is about getting over and getting an update on Tiller's health.
Keith Ramsey just blocked a shot into the second row. Holy cow. Missouri has seven blocked shots. That's something we didn't see a lot of last season.
Bowers just went down awkwardly after a blocked shot. That looked scary for a second too, but he's fine.
Missouri is in a 2-4 zone now. Leave a shooter open in the corner, but he misses. Safford throws it away looking for Bowers underneath. The Tigers don't look so good right now. Anderson wants a timeout.
UTM shoots a three off the side of the backboard. Safford misses a four footer on the other end. Missouri shooting 47.5% which isn't bad, but it seems like it's worse.
Bowers with a steal, then he throws it away immediately. He's not comfortable leading the break just yet.
Safford open for three, no good. Missouri now 4-19 from behind the arc.
Safford gets a block. Eight. Now English leads the break. Goes all the way. He can't finish, but Ramsey does. Keith now has 15 and 7 boards. And just altered a shot. No block, but he caused the miss.
TV timeout: Missouri leads 78-59, just in kind of a lull right now
The Tigers force turnover number 22. That would be a lot better if they didn't have 19 of their own.
Taylor has his shot blocked. Three point play for UTM on the other end. At this point, the Tigers will win, the only question is the margin.
Taylor picks up another charge. Turnover number 20. You can bet that number makes Anderson unhappy. It's been a sloppy night.
English is fouled. His second trip to the line. Missouri's first in a long time. He makes both.
Really hasn't been much of an atmosphere here tonight. The crowd was okay, they just weren't ever all that loud.
John Underwood in the game for Ramsey. Keith finishes with 15 and 7. Moore to the line. He makes one.
Underwood in the box score with a foul.
English has his pocket picked, but the shot is missed. On Missouri's end, Kimmie is just firing away. Misses twice. He is now 1-9. I guess he's just searching for his stroke. You can tell he's frustrated.
Underwood on the board with a dunk off a nice feed from English. Simmons scores. He's got 30 for UTM. Missouri can now dribble out the clock. I was off on my predcition, but not much.
Final Score: Missouri an 83-68 winner