Missouri coach Dennis Gates wanted to give his players a tougher nonconference challenge to test them early during his second year with the Tigers.
“There’s a lot of great teams, great coaches that we face,” Gates said.
That process begins Friday when Missouri (1-0) hosts Memphis (1-0) at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.
Memphis finished 26-9 last season and reached the NCAA Tournament. It opened this season with a 94-77 victory over Jackson State.
Jaykwon Walton led the way with 19 points, five rebounds and three steals. David Jones (15 points), Jordan Brown (11 points, five rebounds), Caleb Mills (10 points, seven rebounds) and Malcolm Dandridge (10 points on 5-for-5 shooting) also had strong games.
Memphis coach Penny Hardaway is serving a three-game suspension for an NCAA recruiting violation, so assistant coach Rick Stansbury is filling in for him.
“We’re not as smooth as we need to be offensively, but we’re getting better,” Stansbury said. “We’re able to score 94 points. When you score the basketball, it makes that game a lot easier. We put five guys in double figures scoring the ball, 21 assists, 16 turnovers, that’s a positive.”
Gates is counting on three key returning players from last year’s 25-10 NCAA Tournament team — forward Noah Carter and guards Nick Honor and Sean East II — to lead a team rebuilt with transfers and freshmen.
“Our team revolves around those three,” Gates said. “But they are so unselfish that they’ll take a step back and allow someone else to be able to lead. They’ll always try to find the hot hand, even if it’s not theirs. They’ll always try to make the extra pass. They’ll always try to be so unselfish that I have to yell at them under my breath to shoot the ball.”
East (21 points), Honor (18 points, four assists) and Carter (15 points, six rebounds) each had strong games in Missouri’s season-opening 101-79 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Missouri played without 7-foot-5 Oral Roberts transfer Connor Vanover, who is serving a three-game NCAA suspension for playing in an unauthorized event. Forward John Tonje, a transfer from Colorado State, sat out the opener after suffering a preseason foot injury.
But depth was not an issue for Missouri, which got 18 points from Indiana transfer Tamar Bates and 15 points and seven rebounds from Iowa State transfer Caleb Grill.
–Field Level Media
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