By Nate Allen
FAYETTEVILLE – Even more astounding than the once but far no longer 9-0, nationally No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks skidding to an 0-3 SEC start is the Missouri Tigers’ 92-86 score over Alabama last Saturday.
The same SEC Mizzou Tigers of Coach Cuonzo Martin that have lost by 14 to Missouri-Kansas City, and by 25 to Illimois and by 27 to Kentucky and by 45 to Kansas City beat the nationally No. 15 Crimson Tide in Columbia, Mo.
Mizzou, 7-7, 1-1 in the SEC play Coach Eric Musselman’s 10-5, 0-3 Razorbacks meet in Wednesday’s 8 p.m. SEC Network televised SEC game at Walton Arena.
Asked to gauge his surprise regarding the Tigers twisting the Tide, Musselman replied, “Obviously Alabama is one of the best teams in the conference, one of the best teams in the country. Missouri played an incredible game. But nothing really is a surprise, I don’t think in conference play.”
Speaking of incredible games, Mizzou’s Kobe Brown played incredibly. The 6-8 junior forward Monday was named SEC Player of the Week for flooding a career high 30 points plus 13 rebounds on the Tide.
“ No. 1 I like how he’s improved,” Musselman said Monday when asked to assess Brown. “You see great growth in his game, so I’m sure he spent a lot of time in the summer getting better at his craft, because you don’t just get better at your craft unless you really, really, really, really, really, really (spend time and work at it.”
Musselman was asked what it takes to defend against the powerful 250-pounder.
“You’re going to have to be a very good, disciplined defender against him and not gamble against a guy that’s a focal point offensively,” Musselman said. “Discipline becomes really important from a defensive standpoint.”
So does bulk vs. bulk battling him on the boards.
“You’re going to have to block him out,” Musselman said. “We know Missouri does like to offensive rebound.”
Reserve forward Kamani Johnson, 6-7, 235, cast a formidable presence with eight rebounds and seven points in 18:30 of last Saturday’s SEC 86-81 loss at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
“I think he’s been patient,” Musselman said of Johnson, redshirting with the Razorbacks last season upon transferring from Arkansas-Little Rock. “I certainly think based on the effort he had last game that he is up the rotation ladder, for sure. We need him to continue to stay out of foul trouble, which he’s done a great job of late. We all know he’s a high-volume free throw attempt player. We all know he’s relentless on the glass. I thought his play was a definite positive for us to walk out of College Station with.”
Injured late during last Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M, senior via University of Miami transfer guard Chris Lykes was not expected Monday morning to practice Monday morning but is expected to be available against Mizzou.
“He’s been doing rehab,” Musselman said Monday morning. “He should be fine. I’ll hold him out of practice today, but he should be fine for Wednesday.”