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12.05.2015 • Saturday • M 2

St. LOuIS POSt-dISPatCH • B3

Gant comes up big in a Mizzou victory Sophomore has impact inside to spark Tigers


BY DAVE MATTER St. Louis Post-dispatch

COLUMBIA, MO. • There was a

Jakeenan Gant sighting at Mizzou Arena on Friday. His coach and teammates were quite appreciative. The 6-8 sophomore forward had struggled in a frontcourt starved for production through the first three weeks of the season. He lost his starting job after the first four games and then watched his minutes dwindle. A heralded arrival last year, Gant had done little to live up to his lofty reputation as one of the country’s best prospects. On Friday, he showed some glimmers in MU’s 78-71 win over Northern Illinois. In front of a season-high crowd of 6,214, Gant came off the bench and sparked the Tigers (4-3) with a seasonbest 11 points and six rebounds. Playing a season-high 18 minutes, Gant performed like the player his teammates have seen in practice. “He changed the game for us


Missouri’s Kevin Puryear goes up for a shot between Northern Illinois’ Marin Maric (left) and Levi Bradley in Friday night’s game.

tonight on the boards and being a great energy guy,” freshman forward Kevin Puryear said after scoring a team-high 17 points. “I was really happy I got to see him work tonight.” “We see it every day in practice,” senior forward Ryan Rosburg added. “He’s capable of providing a big spark for us. He can do a lot of things. He’s so athletic and long. Obviously he hasn’t been playing

as good as he thinks he can and we know he can. It was great to see him have success tonight.” He wasn’t alone. Missouri’s top four forwards combined for 41 points and 18 rebounds, including 31 points in the second half. Reserve forward Russell Woods added nine points, seven coming in three straight possessions early in the second half. The Tigers’ height and depth issues at the for-

VanVleet might return for battered Wichita St. Shockers, Billikens looking to recover from losses BY STU DURANDO St. Louis Post-dispatch

The series of updates on Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet started this week with the senior running and working with trainers outside of practice and a chance he might play against St. Louis University on Saturday. He then increased his activity in practice and told the Wichita Eagle that he would be a game-time decision at Chaifetz Arena. Finally, it was reported by CBS Sports that coach Gregg Marshall said VanVleet would “probably give it a go.” The daily updates wouldn’t have been necessary if not for the Shockers’ recent problems. They enter their third meeting in as many years with the Billikens having sufered three consecutive losses and dropping out of the top 25 for the first time in 43 weeks. Thus, VanVleet’s hamstring injury has been closely watched in Wichita, and SLU coach Jim Crews understands why. “VanVleet is like an older guy playing with a bunch of younger guys,” Crews said. “He’s like 30 and playing with college guys, and he just outsmarts everybody. He’s three steps ahead. He’s a chess player, he’s not checkers.” It’s been a while since the Shockers have stumbled like this. They lost games to USC, Alabama and Iowa last week in Orlando after reaching No. 9 in the rankings. In addition to VanVleet, Wichita State lost Anton Grady to a frightening looking injury in Florida when he suffered a spinal concussion in a collision that left him motionless on the court for several minutes. Guard Landry Shamet is also out with a stress fracture. “We are missing a lot of key guys,” freshman Markis McDuie said. “But I think we definitely could focus more. We had a couple of games we could’ve won last weekend. We just didn’t make shots, had big turnovers near the end of games, fouls, and just other things that didn’t go our way. We’re not going to sit here and say the whole (reason for the losses) was because of injuries.” VanVleet and healthy Ron Baker form what was considered one of best, if not the best, backcourts in the country this season. Fellow guard Tekele Cotton graduated, but the tandem and the supporting cast were considered good enough to produce another huge season. When the teams played two years ago, Baker scored 22 points and VanVleet had six assists in a close Shockers’ win. Last season Baker scored 18 in Wichita State’s 29-point win. “They’re just very smart,” SLU guard


Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet, talking with coach Gregg Marshall, has had a hamstring injury.

Mike Crawford said. “They know how to play well together and with everybody else. They’re just hard to stop in general. You have to beat them to the things that they’re really good at.” The Billikens hope that a year will make a huge diference. Last season in Wichita, SLU fell behind by 26 in the first half. Crews used five freshmen on the floor together for the first time and the Billikens never made a dent in the deficit. “Last year we didn’t go into the game mentally prepared,” SLU guard Davell Roby said. “We were all hyped for it but were weren’t focused, like little kids in a candy store or something.” That game looked similar to SLU’s outing three days ago against Morehead State as the Billikens never were a threat. Thus, neither team enters Saturday’s game playing the way it was expecting. Crews is preparing his team as if VanVleet is going to play. The guard told the Wichita Eagle on Thursday that he was able to complete 85 percent of practice but that he doesn’t want to do anything that is risky. With or without VanVleet, Marshall said his team has a lot of work to improve. “We’ve got to figure out how to score, figure out how to defend better,” he said. “Once we know who’s going to be out on the floor, we’ve got to come up with an attack that’s going to create easier scoring opportunities than the ones we’re getting. We’ve got to shoot the ball better and execute better. I hope we’re done with additional injuries. It seems like we’ve been going backwards for a while.” Stu Durando @studurando on Twitter sdurando@post-dispatch.com

FG FT Reb N. ILLINOIS Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS Baker 32 3-10 3-5 1-4 4 3 11 Iroegbu 10 1-1 0-0 2-2 1 2 2 Armstead 32 3-11 3-5 1-5 0 2 10 Orris 17 0-2 0-0 1-2 0 1 0 Maric 32 5-13 4-4 5-7 0 3 14 Wilson 27 5-12 10-10 1-2 0 3 24 Porter 13 1-2 0-0 0-2 4 3 2 Key 26 2-8 0-0 1-4 2 3 4 Bradley 11 2-4 0-0 1-1 0 2 4 Totals 200 22-63 20-24 17-34 11 22 71 Percentages: FG.349, FT.833. 3-point goals: 7-23, .304. Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 1. Turnovers: 9. Steals: 8. Technical fouls: None. FG FT Reb MISSOURI Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS Phillips 35 5-7 2-3 0-1 6 4 13 Wright 26 3-7 2-4 0-5 3 3 10 Clark 20 1-4 3-6 0-7 4 4 6 Puryear 24 6-10 5-5 0-1 0 1 17 Rosburg 21 2-2 0-0 3-7 1 4 4 Isabell 16 1-5 0-1 1-2 1 0 3 Allen 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Walton 9 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 Gant 18 4-6 3-3 2-6 0 1 11 Woods 15 4-4 1-2 1-4 1 4 9 VanLeer 14 1-4 0-0 0-0 2 0 3 Totals 200 28-52 16-24 10-38 18 22 78 Percentages: FG.538, FT.667. 3-point goals: 6-15, .400. Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 3. Turnovers: 15. Steals: 6. Technical fouls: None. N. Illinois 26 45 — 71 Missouri 27 51 — 78 A: 6,214. Officials: John Hampton, Mike Roberts, Jamie Luckie.

ward positions have created problems in some matchups this year, but the Huskies couldn’t answer MU’s inside punch. “Credit their bigs,” Huskies coach Mark Montgomery added. “We know they’re good players. They had answers. They ran their ofense eiciently to get them the ball.” The surge started with Gant, who resisted — finally — the urge

ST. LOUIS U. VS. WICHITA STATE When • 8 p.m. Saturday Where • Chaifetz Arena TV, radio • ESPNU, WXOS (101.1 FM) Records • SLU is 4-2, Wichita State 2-4. All-time series • SLU leads 42-21. About the Billikens • SLU has scored 103 points combined in the last two games against the two top-rated defensive teams in the country. ... Guard Ash Yacoubou has worked on getting more shots around the basket and is shooting 58 percent inside the 3-point arc compared to 44.5 percent last season. ... Guards Mike Crawford and Miles Reynolds are shooting a cumulative 79.7 percent at the free-throw line and the rest of the team is shooting 58.6 percent. About the Shockers • Dec. 5 is the winningest date in Wichita State history, with the Shockers posting a 15-3 mark on this date. ... Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are included on the Naismith Trophy watch list. The award goes to the national player of the year. ... After scoring ive points in the irst three games, Markis McDuie has averaged 12.3 in the last three. ... The Shockers are under .500 for the irst time since February 2009.

to hang out on the perimeter and hoist ill-advised 3-pointers. The sophomore came into the game 0 for seven from 3-point range this season and just one for 21 in his career. He’s taken just one shot from behind the arc the last three games, embracing his coaches’ desired role as an impact player at the rim. Gant came into the game with only 15 points and 10 rebounds in MU’s first six games. The Tigers raced out to a 12-0 lead as the Huskies (7-1) didn’t score until 5:05 into the first half. By halftime, though, NIU had climbed within one as the Tigers frittered away possessions with turnovers and early shots. Terrence Phillips, Anderson’s freshman point guard, had a team-high seven points at the break but four turnovers. Missouri eventually settled down in the second half by attacking the lane. NIU evened the score at 41-41 with 13:25 left, but Gant put the Tigers back in front for good with a hook shot. Gant followed with a steal in the backcourt and ran the floor the rest of the way for a three-point play to build a 54-46 lead. Dave Matter @dave_matter on Twitter dmatter@post-dispatch.com

No. 2 Maryland bounces back to rip St. Francis FROM WIRE AND NEWS SERVICES

Robert Carter Jr. had 20 points, and No. 2 Maryland routed St. Francis 96-55 on Friday night in College Park, Md. The Terrapins bounced back from their first loss of the season Tuesday against No. 9 North Carolina in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Freshman Diamond Stone added 16 points, and Jake Layman scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half. Maryland (7-1) was 31 of 46 from the field (67.4 percent) and has shot at least 50 percent for five consecutive games. Ben Millaud-Meunier led St. Francis (3-4) with 13 points. Ronnie Drinnon added 11 points with 10 rebounds for the Red Flash, who have dropped each of their four road games this season. Layman scored eight points as Maryland opened with a 16-3 run. The Red Flash struggled to get open shots against the Terrapins’ tight man-to-man defense and made just three of their first 16 shots from the field.

AREA SIUC women top SIUE • Rishonda Napier scored 18 points and host Southern Illinois Carbondale beat Southern Illinois Edwardsville. Dyana Pierre added nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds for SIUC (4-3). Shronda Butts led the Cougars (3-5) with 23 points.



SLU guard Davell Roby takes a fall against SIUE last month.

ILLINOIS VS. W. CAROLINA When • 2 p.m. Saturday Where • State Farm Center, Champaign Radio • WQQX (1490 AM) Records • Illinois is 3-5, Western Carolina 3-4. Of note • Illinois will face one of the smallest teams it will see all season in the Catamounts, who don’t have a starter taller than 6-foot-7; Illinois may counter with a smaller lineup.

Calipari says Wildcats need toughness • Kentucky coach John Calipari cautioned anyone who would listen that all the talent possessed by his latest freshman class would mean nothing if they didn’t also show a little toughness. If he was having trouble getting his team’s attention, he’s not anymore. The top-ranked Wildcats showed none of that needed grit Thursday night in an 87-77 loss at UCLA, a game in which Calipari’s concerns about his team’s resolve painfully unfolded in Kentucky’s first regularseason loss in nearly 21 months. “We got kicked, we got beat, we move on,” Calipari said. “We’ve had a pretty good run, and we’ll see if we can get it going again.” Kentucky (7-1) has until Wednesday against Eastern Kentucky to find some of that missing fortitude. Wisconsin’s Pritzl is out • Wisconsin guard Brevin Pritzl has reinjured his left foot and is out indefinitely. The school said Friday that Pritzl hurt the foot in practice Tuesday. He is coming of a broken foot that required surgery in August but won’t need new surgery, the school said. Pritzl, a 6-3 shooting guard, has played just four minutes this season.

HOW THE TOP 25 FARED 1. Kentucky (7-1) idle. Next: vs. Eastern Kentucky, Wednesday. 2. Maryland (7-1) beat St. Francis (Pa.) 96-55. Next: vs. UConn, Tuesday. 3. Michigan State (8-0) idle. Next: vs. Binghamton, Saturday. 4. Kansas (5-1) idle. Next: vs. Harvard, Saturday. 5. Iowa State (6-0) idle. Next: vs. Buffalo, Monday. 6. Oklahoma (5-0) idle. Next: vs. No. 8 Villanova, Monday.

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7. Duke (7-1) idle. Next: vs. Buffalo, Saturday. 8. Villanova (7-0) idle. Next: vs. No. 6 Oklahoma, Monday. 9. North Carolina (6-1) idle. Next: vs. Davidson, Sunday. 10. Virginia (6-1) idle. Next: vs. William & Mary, Saturday. 11. Purdue (7-0) idle. Next: vs. New Mexico, Saturday. 12. Xavier (7-0) idle. Next: vs. Western Kentucky, Saturday. 13. Gonzaga (5-1) idle. Next: vs. No. 19 Arizona, Saturday. 14. Syracuse (6-1) idle. Next: at Georgetown, Saturday. 15. Oregon (6-1) lost to UNLV 80-69. Next: vs. Navy, Monday. 16. Vanderbilt (6-1) idle. Next: at No. 25 Baylor, Sunday. 17. Cincinnati (7-1) idle. Next: vs. Morgan State, Sunday. 18. Texas A&M (7-1) idle. Next: at Arizona State, Saturday. 19. Arizona (6-1) idle. Next: at No. 13 Gonzaga, Saturday. 20. West Virginia (6-0) idle. Next: vs. Kennesaw State, Saturday. 21. Miami (6-1) idle. Next: vs. Charlotte, Saturday. 22. SMU (5-0) idle. Next: vs. New Hampshire, Saturday. 23. Providence (7-1) idle. Next: at Rhode Island, Saturday. 24. Louisville (5-1) idle. Next: vs. Grand Canyon, Saturday. 25. Baylor (5-1) idle. Next: vs. No. 16 Vanderbilt, Sunday.