Jabari Brown debuts for Missouri men's basketball team

Monday, December 17, 2012 | 11:07 p.m. CST; updated 11:42 a.m. CST, Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Jabari Brown drives past South Carolina State's Patrick Myers during the game in Mizzou Arena. The game was Brown's first time playing for Missouri since he transferred from Oregon.

COLUMBIA — At 16:01, he stood for the first time, his name called four minutes into the game.

The fans that noticed began to cheer, and the fans that didn’t quickly realized. Just like him, they had been waiting all season long.

He checked in and walked toward center court, the big screen following his every move.

“And now … making his Tiger debut … Jabari Brown,” the announcer said.

More fans began to cheer.

It’s been more than a year since the redshirt sophomore played, transferring from Oregon last December.

He looked around the stadium, at the fans, re-tucked his jersey and took a deep breath.

“I felt appreciated,” Brown said, smiling.

He had been looking forward to this game for quite some time. Sure, there were pregame jitters, but the 6-foot-5 guard quickly shook them off, contributing immediately for the Missouri men's basketball team in Monday night's game at Mizzou Arena.

In the first half, he had seven points and two assists, one of which was a perfect pass in transition to a running Negus Webster-Chan that led to an easy layup. In the second half, he added five more points, finishing the game with 12 in 20 minutes, and once again found a teammate for an easy layup, this time Ryan Rosburg. Despite shooting 1-for-7 from the 3-point line, Brown had a successful debut.

“He played great,” Tigers coach Frank Haith said. “He was 1-for 7 from three, but that doesn’t concern me because I know that he’s going to make threes. What Jabari brings is basketball IQ, moves well without the ball. He passes the ball. He’s patient offensively, and I think that’s needed with this team.”

For the first time in a game this season, he helped his team. The No. 12 Tigers (9-1) won 102-51 over South Carolina State.

Praised for his shooting ability, Brown showed off some of his other talents in the win.

“Most people see him as a shooter, but he’s a great passer, a great rebounder. He’s a great player,” Earnest Ross said, who had a game-high 16 points. “He’s not always looking for his shot. He’s looking to get other people involved. On this team, we have a lot of guys that can score the ball, so with him being a passer, along with the rest of us, it makes the team a lot more comfortable to play with each other.”

Brown has been practicing with the team all season but now has to get accustomed to playing when it really counts.

“Jabari will find his niche, and he will give what the team needs,” Haith said. “I don’t want him to feel like he’s got to be a guy that’s going to put up 30 points a game, just work himself into being a really good player.”

Brown waited more than a year to play, and now, only has to wait five more days until he can play again.

“(I’m) just looking forward to the next one," Brown said, laughing.

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