Defense, Watson’s shooting ease Missouri past Chicago State

The sophomore set a single-game Mizzou Arena record, making eight three-pointers in a 91-33 win.

Faced with a tune-up against Chicago State before the start of conference play, Missouri easily handled the third-worst team in KenPom ratings through suffocating defense and a surprising offensive performance from sophomore Torrence Watson.

The Tigers (8-4) were 33-point favorites against the Cougars (4-11), but exceeded that margin in a 91-33 victory at Mizzou Arena on Monday night.

Coach Cuonzo Martin made only one change to his starting lineup from the Tigers’ Braggin’ Rights win over Illinois, starting senior Reed Nikko at forward for Jeremiah Tilmon, who was out with a foot injury.

Eleven players made it onto the floor for Martin’s team during the first half, including St. Louis-area freshman Mario McKinney Jr., who received an ovation from the home crowd as he entered the game and fed the ball to Nikko for an assist on his first possession.

While Missouri’s three-point driven offense faced little difficulty in the first half, it was the Tigers’ defense that was especially dominant in shutting down the visitors early. Only four Chicago State players scored in the first interval, compared to 10 for Missouri.

Watson drew notice for his shooting as he settled into the game. After missing his first three three-point attempts, he drained eight of his next 10 shots from range to set a career high in made 3-pointers and a single-game record for Mizzou Arena. Having entered the game shooting just 19.6% from beyond the arc, Monday’s performance could be a needed confidence boost.

His play was part of broader success from 3-point range from the Tigers, who shot 16 for 31, making more three-pointers than the Cougars made overall shots. No Chicago State player scored more than seven points.

The final minutes of the game served as an opportunity for sophomore walk-ons Brooks Ford and Evan Yerkes to score their collegiate first points.

The Tigers travel to No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday to open SEC play.

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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