NCAA Tournament; Utah State vs. Missouri: Getting To Know The Tigers
Who are Aggies first round opponent?
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USU back in the tourney
Utah State basketball is back in the NCAA Tournament and they will be taking on the Missouri Tigers from the SEC. This is a No. 10 vs. No. 7 seed with the Aggies being the lower seed.
To get to know Missouri we chat with an expert of Tigers hoops with Matthew Stahl of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
1. First-year coach Dennis Gates took over a team that lost a lot to the portal. How did he get this basically brand-new team to be this good so fast?
I kind of nodded and ignored him early on when he spoke about how his roster construction was about putting pieces together correctly, which sounded to me like something you say when you can’t get a bunch of four and five star recruits in. Goes to show how useless my basketball analysis is. Gates put together a team that plays with remarkable chemistry, with so much college basketball experience that it isn’t phased by nearly any situation.
2. Who are the key players who have led this Tigers program to get to the NCAA Tournament?
Kobe Brown is obviously the first name you have to mention. He’s an all-SEC player who can get MU a bucket whenever needed and was one of just three returning players from last year’s team.
D’Moi Hodge is a threat from deep and can put teams away fast with his shot. He’s also all over the court on defense, even broke the Missouri school record for steals in a season this year.
When it comes down to a final shot, I don’t know if there’s a player in the country you’d rather have than DeAndre Gholston. He’s made two half-court buzzer-beaters this season, to beat Central Florida and Tennessee.
3. Utah State is being picked as a trendy 10 over 7 seed. Why do you think that is the case?
The predictive metrics have hated the Tigers all season. They’ve won a bunch of close games and have had a tendency to play with their food, so they actually finished with a worse KenPom ranking than they started with, which is wild given how unexpectedly good the season has been.
4. Missouri is much better at home than on the road with their 5-5 record for true road games. Does that come into play as there is a decent chance of Utah State having more fans with this game being played in Sacramento?
No, I wouldn’t be real concerned about it if I were Mizzou. It seemed like the majority of the road woes are in the past, especially given the buzzer-beater against Tennessee and the 19-point comeback at LSU toward the end of the season.
5. What problems could Utah State present to Missouri?
Weirdly enough it’s the same kind of problems that Missouri can present other teams. If the shooting is clicking, it seems like the Aggies are tough to stop.
6. How do you see this game playing out?
It really depends on the Tigers in my opinion. I think the loss to Alabama looks worse on paper, since the Tide pulled away at the ends, but MU really gave them all they could handle despite being ice cold from the field.
I think Missouri pulls that together and gets a win. In typical Tiger fashion though, I think it’s close at the end and really comes down to the final few possessions.