COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — When new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin overhauled the roster in the offseason with a top-five recruiting class, it appeared from the outside that feisty but offensively challenged junior guard Jordan Geist could be an odd man out.
As it turned out, Geist was just Martin’s type. And in Saturday night’s 100-77 victory over Green Bay, he was an offensive machine.
Geist, a reserve guard who entered the game averaging 5.2 points, scored 28, exceeding his previous career high by 10. He made 11 of 14 shots from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range.
“He embraces challenges,” Martin said. “He’s battle-tested. He likes to compete. . He likes to wrestle out there now and then. I’d rather have that than not.”
Geist shot 29 percent from 3-point range last year. This year, he’s making 48 percent of his 3-pointers. He credits a summer of shooting for the improvement.
“That was one of my main focuses, just so people couldn’t just back off me,” Geist said. “I prided myself on that this summer.”
But 3-point shooting was only part of his big night. He regularly blew past his defenders and got to the rim. He even dunked — sort of, as the ball got a bit of the rim — on a breakaway after a steal.
Geist declared it was indeed a dunk.
“I’ll give it to him,” said teammate Jordan Barnett, who scored 19 points. “It’s arguable, but I’ll give it to him.”
Green Bay (3-5), led by the hot outside shooting of forward David Jesperson, hit five of its first seven shots and opened a 13-4 lead.
Missouri’s Kevin Puryear tied it at 21 with a driving layup with 11:30 left in the first half, and Barnett’s 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 29-21 lead a few minutes later. It only got worse for the Phoenix, who couldn’t stop penetration by Missouri’s guards. Missouri led 60-40 at halftime.
Turnovers have been a problem for the Tigers (8-2) early in the season — they averaged 15.3 through the first nine games — but they only had eight against Green Bay. Missouri’s Jeremiah Tilmon finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Jontay Porter added 12 points and eight rebounds. Walk-on Adam Wolf, a fan favorite, got the Tigers to the 100-point mark with a 3-pointer in the final minute.
Jesperson made 5 of 6 3-pointers and led the Phoenix with 17 points. Khalil Small added 12, Will Chevalier scored 11 and Hunter Crist finished with 10.
Green Bay: Saturday’s game was a reunion for Phoenix coach Linc Darner. He was a teammate of Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin at Purdue from 1992-95. Darner scored 437 career points for the Boilermakers, while Martin racked up 1,666 career points.
Missouri: Coach Martin announced Friday that freshman C.J. Roberts plans to transfer. Roberts, 6-foot point guard from Irving, Texas, was expected to redshirt this season. The Tigers usually play three point guards, and none of them are seniors, so prospects for future playing time were cloudy. “We wish him nothing but the best, and we will assist him in any way possible,” Martin said.
Tilmon, a 6-10, 252-pound freshman, has been a force inside except when foul trouble limits his minutes. Against Green Bay, he played physically but didn’t commit the silly fouls that have been a problem early in the year.
“He was what we needed him to be, unstoppable on the glass,” Barnett said. “He had seven offensive rebounds. That says a lot. He did his job. He’s getting better, especially at staying out of foul trouble. We need that from him.”
With less than nine minutes left in the game, some bumping between Green Bay’s Trevian Bell and Puryear on one end of the floor escalated into shoving on the other. Both players were assessed technical fouls. Puryear, who did not appear to be the instigator, was disqualified because he already had four personal fouls. He finished with just four points.
Green Bay: The Phoenix will visit Indiana State (4-5) on Tuesday.
Missouri: The Tigers have the week off for final exams and return to court Saturday with a home game against North Florida (3-7).
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