Notebook: Geist not practicing but will still play after breakout Paradise Jam

Missouri hosts Temple and UCF this week after a second-place performance at the Paradise Jam.
Jordan Geist, 15, strides past defenders during a game at Mizzou Arena on Feb. 5, 2017.

Missouri returned home from the Paradise Jam with up-and-down results: two close wins against Oregon State and Kennesaw State, then a blowout loss to Kansas State in the championship.

The Tigers now return to Columbia, where they will stay until they travel to St. Louis for the Braggin’ Rights Game against Illinois on Dec. 22. Missouri will play all of its remaining nonconference games in Missouri, starting with Temple and Central Florida this week.

Here are some notes from coach Cuonzo Martin before the stretch run of nonconference play.

Geist not practicing, Santos progressing

In the Virgin Islands, senior Jordan Geist was the standout performer on the offensive end for a team on which points are hard to come by. He ended the tournament with two 20-point performances and became the team’s leading scorer through the first five games.

But ailed by a back injury, Geist hasn’t practiced with the team since returning to Columbia, Martin said.

Geist also didn’t practice during his breakout stretch in the Virgin Islands due to the injury. But he is expected to play in Missouri’s games this week, Martin said Monday.

“He’s progressing well,” Martin said. “It was more than what he showed because he’s a competitive player and more than what he displayed because he played so well, but it was a big issue.”

K.J. Santos also isn’t practicing, still sidelined by a foot injury in preseason. Martin said Santos has begun “individual skill work” but hasn’t practiced with the team. He added that Santos could return to the floor soon.

“If he stays at the pace he is now for the next week or two, I would think he’d be on the floor,” Martin said.

Santos would give a boost to Missouri’s outside shooting woes in the early part of the season. The career 36 percent 3-point shooter would be a welcomed addition to a team with only two players shooting over 31 percent from downtown this season.

The emergence of Ronnie Suggs

With the shortage of scoring sources, one player who saw an increased role in the Paradise Jam was walk-on Ronnie Suggs. The transfer from Bradley played at least eight minutes in each of Missouri’s last three games and could continue to play a larger role for Missouri in the future.

“I think you’ll see Ronnie,” Martin said. “Walk-on is just a label. It’s not who you are and I believe Ronnie has the ability to give more and do more.”

Suggs has been a beneficiary of a deep rotation for Martin. Missouri has played at least 10 men in each of its last four games, contrary to Martin saying before the season that he hoped to use only nine regularly. Freshman Christian Guess saw his first action as a Tiger in Missouri’s loss to Kansas State.

According to Martin, Guess has gained almost 20 pounds since joining the team in September. Martin praised his work in practice so far this season.

“You often try to reward a guy for the work they put in,” Martin said. “It was great for him to get that experience against tough competition.”

Tilmon’s foul trouble resurfaces

All offseason, a focus for MU was limiting Jeremiah Tilmon’s foul troubles.

With two double-figure performances and only seven fouls over his first three games, Tilmon’s foul troubles looked to be a thing of the past. But the later stages of the Paradise Jam saw a regression when Tilmon fouled out in two straight games, picking up 10 fouls in 37 minutes.

The foul trouble tied him to the bench at the end of a close win over Oregon State and a loss to Kansas State. More importantly, it showed Missouri could have to deal with Tilmon’s foul troubles restricting minutes within the short-staffed frontcourt this season.

”With his fouls, it’s almost like we have to be able to take the next step,” Martin said. “In most cases, he takes himself out of games and it puts a strain on our team now.”

Martin said Reed Nikko has made tremendous strides and taken advantage of the playing time from Tilmon’s continued foul trouble. Nikko is averaging four points per game this season and saw a big increase in minutes, averaging 15 per game in the Paradise Jam.

Edited by Bennett Durando |

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