#73 Missouri Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Missouri Tigers
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #73
Conference Rank: #12 SEC
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Two years ago, during Coach Cuonzo Martin’s first season leading the program, Missouri reached the NCAA Tournament. Last year the Tigers dropped below .500 overall and went just 5-13 in SEC play. Much of that had to do with the injury to Jontay Porter, who missed the entire 2018-2019 season and then went pro. Losing Jordan Geist and Kevin Puryear does not help either, but Mizzou has enough pieces here to move up the SEC pecking order. That may not result in a return trip to the NCAA Tournament though.
2018-19 Record: 15-17, 5-13
2018-19 Postseason: None
Coach: Cuonzo Martin
Coach Record: 35-30 at Missouri, 221-151 overall
Key Departed Players:
Jordan Geist, Guard, 14.8 ppg
Kevin Puryear, Forward, 7.1 ppg
Ronnie Suggs, Guard, 1.7 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Mark Smith, Junior, Guard, 11.4 ppg
Jeremiah Tilmon, Junior, Forward, 10.1 ppg
Javon Pickett, Sophomore, Guard, 7.7 ppg
Torrence Watson, Sophomore, Guard, 7.1 ppg
Xavier Pinson, Sophomore, Guard, 6.6 ppg
Reed Nikko, Senior, Forward, 3.0 ppg
Mitchell Smith, Junior, Forward, 2.5 ppg
Key New Players:
Parker Braun, RS Freshman, Forward
Kobe Brown, Freshman, Forward
Tray Jackson, Freshman, Forward
Mario McKinney Jr, Freshman, Guard
Axel Okongo, Junior, Forward, JC Transfer
Dru Smith, Junior, Guard, Transfer from Evansville
Mark Smith is the team’s top returning scorer with 11.4 points per game. The 6-5 junior transferred in from Illinois and made a big impact in the 19 games when he was healthy. A foot injury slowed him down the stretch, but Smith still proved to be one of the better shooters in the SEC. The backcourt also returns Javon Pickett, who started 31 games as a freshman and Xavier Pinson, who is expected to step into the starting point guard role. Pinson averaged 6.6 points and 2.3 assists per game as a freshman, but will need to keep the turnovers down now that he could be Missouri’s primary ball handler. Evansville transfer Dru Smith is a quality ball handler too and will see plenty of minutes running the point. Torrence Watson may come off the bench again in 2019-2020, but either way he will add another shooting threat to the roster. The star of the frontcourt is Jeremiah Tilmon. The 6-10 junior averaged 10.1 points and a team high 5.9 rebounds last season and is ready for a big junior year. Somebody else will need to compliment Tilmon in the frontcourt though. Reed Nikko has experience, but a few newcomers are in the mix too. Axel Okongo comes from the junior college ranks and that experience will be vital, but Tray Jackson highlights the group of newcomers. If Missouri can find a productive frontcourt mate for Tilmon, this is a group that can pull off a few surprises against the tougher teams in the SEC.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.2 (299th in nation, 14th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.8 (73, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.0 (252, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (126, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.3 (116, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (81, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.3 (182, 9)
Rebound Margin: 3.8 (57, 3)
Assists Per Game: 11.1 (321, 14)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.0 (269, 12)

Madness 2019 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#72 LaTrayton Jackson
#158 Mario McKinney