In the Missouri Tigers win against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the opening game of SEC play, second top scorer Laurence Bowers injured the opposite knee of an injury that had kept him out for much of last season. Bowers, after an injury to Jabari Brown and the transfer of Michael Dixon Jr., had proven himself to be an enormous asset to the Tigers’ offensive minded team. There is no word as of yet to how significant the injury is or how long he will miss playing time, but Bowers’s absence in even one game could be devastating to the Tigers. Other players on this Missouri team must step up now.
With the absence of Bowers, Brown must start scoring consistently. There is no longer time for him to readjust from injury slowly; he must play at the level he did against the Crimson Tide, hitting five straight threes to ice the game for the Tigers. Phil Pressey will have to step up his game as well. The preseason All-SEC point guard may be the best passer in the league, but without Bowers down low to get offensive rebounds from missed shots, it might not be enough to keep the Tigers winning. Alex Oriakhi transferred to Missouri after winning a national championship with the UConn Huskies, but has not been playing up to his expected level. Oriakhi will carry much of the rebounding load now that Bowers is out.
Missouri came into this season expecting a national championship after a disappointing (to say the least) loss to Norfolk State in last year’s NCAA tournament. After some early season player losses and being dismantled at the hands of Louisville early in the season, Missouri has hit a stride and become the top team in the SEC up until the start of SEC play. Bowers lost threatens that top spot and teams like Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky are waiting for any chance to prove themselves worthy of taking Missouri’s place.