By: Nate Smith
The Missouri Tigers won in dominant fashion on Monday night, defeating the Chicago State Cougars 91-33. In the last game of the decade at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers were afforded one final chance to sharpen their claws before opening conference play begins.
From the opening tip, it was clear the Cougars wouldn’t offer much resistance against a Tigers team looking for their 8th win. Missouri jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first 80 seconds, forcing Chicago State to take a quick timeout. That did nothing to slow down the Tigers, as Mark Smith’s hot start from the field helped Missouri race out to a big lead. Smith shot 3-5 from deep after being held scoreless in a win against rival Illinois.
But as the night unfolded, it would be Smith’s teammate that stole the show. Sophomore Torrence Watson splashed his second three of the game as the halftime horn sounded, sending the Tigers to the locker room up 31.
In the second half, Watson picked up right where he left off. Mizzou stormed out of the locker room, refusing to take their foot off the gas against a Cougars team that didn’t stand much of a chance. Sensing that Watson was cooking, his teammates were able to find him open and feed him the ball repeatedly. After the game Mark Smith said, “when you got a guy that’s feeling it like that, I feel like you gotta find him every chance you can…on the break, half-court, anytime you can get him the ball, you gotta get it to him.”
With the game winding down, Watson had already captured the attention of Mizzou Arena with seven made threes. At the 4:47 mark, Watson made history. His 8th three-point make of the game set the single-game individual record for Mizzou Arena, now in its 15th season. After the game, Watson said he wasn’t aware that the record was in reach. “I had no clue. I didn’t look up at the scoreboard one time. I was just like, man I’m feeling it, my teammates were doing a great job of getting me the ball so I’m like you know what, just hoping it goes in.”
Cheers erupted from the crowd after Watson’s record was announced, and one had to wonder how Watson was feeling at that moment. “My heart dropped a little bit, I’m not gonna lie. That’s crazy..like that’s a three-point record. I mean that’s a goal that you have as a kid is to come in here and break records for Mizzou and just be a great Tiger and be remembered.”
It was a great night all-around for Watson, Smith, and their Missouri teammates. The Tigers will look to ride this momentum into SEC play as they get set to travel to Lexington on Saturday to take on Kentucky.