The Maneater

Puryear helps Tigers to 69-63 semi-final win over Oregon State

Jordan Geist came in just ahead of Kevin Puryear in scoring, the two combining for over half of Missouri’s points.

Kevin Puryear drives the lane in Missouri's 76-59 defeat to Iowa St. on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 in Ames, Iowa.

Kevin Puryear hit double digits early in the second half on a left-handed layup off of an assist from Xavier Pinson.

The Tigers had gone into the locker room at halftime with a lead of 4, the same point difference as their Friday night tournament-opener against Kennesaw State.

After leading Missouri in scoring that game, the senior was determined to finish this game victorious once again.

The fact that he was celebrating his 22nd birthday probably served as a motivator as well.

Despite a second half that was likely too close for comfort at times for coach Cuonzo Martin, Missouri (3-1, 0-0) bested Oregon State (3-1, 0-0) 69-63 for its second win of the 2018 Paradise Jam. It now advances to the tournament championship on Nov. 19 against the winner of Penn and Kansas State.

Although Puryear didn’t end up leading the Tigers, he finished the game with 17 points, going 100 percent at the line while also logging seven rebounds. The role of highest scoring Tiger went to Jordan Geist, who had his largest point total of the season coming in at 21 points and more than doubling his season point total. The senior had quite the turnaround from a first half that saw him go 0-6 excluding free throws.

Jeremiah Tilmon also had an explosive start, logging 4 points for the Tigers in the first two minutes before quickly being benched for the half by coach Martin after being given twopersonal foul calls. He reached five fouls in 13 minutes of play. The sophomore struggled with fouls during his freshman season, finishing with 121 in 2017.

Mark Smith also maxed out in fouls after 20 minutes and 6 points for the Tigers.

Oregon State only saw one lead in the entire game — lasting a brief 21 seconds —despite tying up the game four times in the second half. Missouri’s largest lead of the game finally came with just under six minutes to play in the game, when Pinson’s second scoring play extended the lead to 13 points.

Missouri has never faced off against Penn before, but the No. 12 Kansas State Wildcats (3-0, 0-0) are familiar foes for the Tigers. The two programs have faced off 236 times in their histories, with the Wildcats barely in the series lead — 119 wins to the Tigers’ 117. Missouri is not slated to face off against Kansas State any other time this season.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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