By: Nate Smith
On a night where Missouri trailed by as much as 20 points, the Tigers found a way to claw their way back and emerge victorious over the Georgia Bulldogs, 72-69. A big second-half performance from Tigers big man Reed Nikko “changed the game” according to Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean. “When you got a guy that plays that hard, that is that efficient and is totally selfless about what is needed for the team, that’s a very valuable thing.” Crean said Nikko not only changed the game but also “gave everybody else on that team a level of confidence.”
Nikko said after the game that it “meant a lot” to hear Crean speak so highly of him. “I appreciate him saying that. I just try to come in—my jobs always been (to) give energy and play as hard as I can, and I was able to do that tonight.”
Nikko’s late block on Georgia star freshman Anthony Edwards helped seal the deal for the Tigers, who squeaked out a three-point victory. “You know that the play was probably going to (Anthony Edwards). Great player, credit to him. I was just trying to (stay dialed in) on when the shot goes up or when his drive happens, just be locked in and be ready to make a play. I was able to do that.” After the game, Nikko was asked if the block on Edwards was his biggest moment of the season to date. “I don’t know if it’s the biggest moment of the season, I think it was probably one of the bigger moments of our game. It was definitely a big play at the end of the game, but it’s a team game and we’ve definitely had a lot of big moments all season, and not just individual ones, good team wins and this is definitely one of those wins.”
With the win over Georgia, Missouri snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to 10-10 on the season, and 2-5 in SEC play. Nikko and the Tigers know how important it will be to continue moving in the right direction to close out the season. “Not having a losing streak looming over our heads anymore, I think that’s gonna allow guys to shoot a little bit more freely, (and be) a little bit more confident. I think it’s gonna be really important for us moving forward here.”
Missouri will try to keep the momentum going when they play next on Saturday. The Tigers will travel from Columbia to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks of South Carolina.