Men’s basketball notebook: Missouri replaces Utah with home game against Temple

Coach Cuonzo Martin also discussed Cullen VanLeer’s rehab strides, Jeremiah Tilmon’s diversifying game and more with local media on Tuesday.
Cuonzo Martin speaks at a media day earlier this season.

Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin met with local media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss offseason Missouri men’s basketball news and the team’s progression as the 2018-19 campaign grows nearer. Here are some points of interest from the day.

Temple replaces Utah on schedule

When asked Tuesday if Missouri was looking for a replacement opponent currently for Utah, Cuonzo Martin broke the news that the Tigers will play Temple this year.

“So Temple will come in,” Martin said, “and Utah will come next year.”

The last time the Tigers played Temple was in the 1993 NCAA Tournament. The Owls won 71-65.

Missouri lost to Utah 77-59 in Salt Lake City last season in the first game of a home-and-home, but earlier this month Utes assistant coach Andy Hill told ESPN 700 in Salt Lake that this year’s game had been pushed back for “some logistical things.” It is still expected to be played in Columbia in 2019.

Temple went 17-16 last season and lost in the first round of the NIT, but went 2-3 against SEC opponents and also defeated No. 16 Wichita State in one of three matchups between the American Athletic Conference foes. The Owls will also be returning their two leading scorers from 2017-18 in junior and senior guards Quinton Rose and Shizz Alston, Jr.

Missouri’s confirmed 2018 nonconference opponents now go as shows: Iowa State, Temple, Xavier, Central Florida, Illinois, Oral Roberts, Central Arkansas, Kennesaw State and two more undetermined teams in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tilmon continuing to diversify

Martin had a lot to say about rising sophomore Jeremiah Tilmon’s continuing development this summer, particularly his expansion beyond the paint on offense.

“He’s been working on his ball handling, his perimeter shot,” Martin said. “Don’t want him to get consumed with the perimeter .... I think he does have the ability to make the moves, maybe straight line drives to the glass, he’s doing a good job of that. I think it’s our job to put him in position on things outside of around the rim so he can make plays off the dribble and continue to grow on that.”

Martin has touched on Tilmon’s widening shot range throughout the offseason, at one point telling local media the big man was taking 100 3-pointers a day.

The 6’11” returning starter averaged 8.2 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game last season. He also didn’t attempt a single three-point shot.

Pinson and Santos

Freshman point guard Xavier Pinson has been at home in Chicago for a couple of weeks now and isn’t currently training with the team, but according to Martin, Pinson’s situation is “nothing to be alarmed about.”

“He’s really dealing with a personal issue,” Martin said, “but he’s working out. I’ve got to sneak in to see if he’s lifting those weights, but he’s doing alright.”

Martin said he expects Pinson to be back with the team soon.

Newcomer K.J. Santos, a senior transfer from University of Illinois-Chicago, announced in February he’d be playing for the Puerto Rican national team this summer, but Martin said Santos did not travel to play with the team.

VanLeer lifting

Cullen VanLeer tore his ACL in early March when the Tigers were playing Arkansas at Mizzou Arena and has been rehabbing since, but according to Martin, Tuesday has his first day of lifting since the injury.

“I just left the weight room ... this might be his first day if i’m not mistaken, really lifting,” Martin said.

Martin referred to the senior guard’s recovery process as “day to day.” Other than beginning to lift, his status for the 2018-19 season remains unclear.

“One day at a time,” Martin said. “It’s a slow process.”

Edited by Bennett Durando |

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