Kansas State’s uncharacteristic shooting quiets Missouri in Paradise Jam final

The Wildcats shot 20 percent on 3s last season but made 12 of 24 to beat Missouri 82-67 Monday night.
Missouri players Jordan Geist, Christian Guess, Javon Pickett and Jeremiah Tilmon watch from the bench as the clock hits zero in the second half of Missouri's 76-59 loss to Iowa St. Friday night in Ames, Iowa.

The biggest challenge of Missouri’s nonconference basketball schedule went pretty much how one would expect a game to go for a coach who used to play for his opponent.

Kansas State’s Bruce Weber was an assistant coach at Purdue when MU coach Cuonzo Martin played there in the 1990s, and Weber’s No. 12 Wildcats pounced all over Martin’s Tigers in the final of the 2018 Paradise Jam Monday night, 82-67.

Missouri (3-2) finished its weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a 2-1 mark after beating Kennesaw State and Oregon State to reach the final.

But Kansas State (5-0), a team returning all five starters a year after reaching the Elite Eight, simply outmatched the Tigers on Monday. Kansas State shot 20 percent on from outside the arc last season, but it made 12 of 24 3-point attempts against Missouri to pace an unusually high-scoring game for a Weber team.

The Wildcats averaged 71 points per game in the 2017-18 campaign, ranking 248th in the country. Their 82 points against Missouri may have represented a shooting anomaly, but they thoroughly outplayed a young Missouri team, shooting 54.5 percent from the field and tallying 17 assists to Missouri’s 12.

With the loss, Missouri fell to 1-2 against power conference schools this year and 0-2 against its former league, the Big 12. The Tigers lost 76-59 at Iowa State on Nov. 9.

This contest followed a similar pattern as that Iowa State loss. Missouri took a brief punch early on, falling behind 7-0, then recovered to stick around for most of the first half.

Then, like at Iowa State, the Tigers unraveled in the last few minutes before the intermission.

This time it was a half-closing 13-0 run that crippled Missouri’s chances. The team had already overcome an 8-point deficit to draw even despite limited minutes again from sophomore Jeremiah Tilmon, who was whistled for two early fouls. Junior Reed Nikko filled the void with a consistent post presence and a pair of dunks.

But tied at 24, Missouri went the last four minutes of the half without scoring while Kansas State standout Dean Wade didn’t relent in his shooting barrage. His pick-and-pop potpourri picked apart Missouri, who rarely adjusted by sending senior Kevin Puryear to hedge screens and prevent space.

Wade finished with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He was 4-for-6 on 3-pointers. Barry Brown Jr. added 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, while Xavier Sneed (13 points) and Kamau Stokes (10) each finished in double figures for Kansas State as well.

Like against Iowa State, Missouri picked up where it left off at the beginning of the second half and slipped into a deficit as large as 22 points. The Tigers, led by senior Jordan Geist, made a couple of brief bursts but did little more than raise eyebrows. They got within 14 on one 8-0 run, but quickly fell back into a 19-point hole.

Geist led all scorers with 24 points, following up on his team-leading 21 points the day before against Oregon State. The point guard is usually praised for his stoic on-ball defense, but he was named to the all-tournament team after a coming-of-age offensive performance in the Virgin Islands.

Missouri gets a week off before taking on Temple at Mizzou Arena next Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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