Kobe Brown lays the ball up (copy)

Missouri forward Kobe Brown lays the ball up while defended by Northern Illinois guard Darweshi Hunter during a 54-37 win for the Tigers on Nov. 18 in Columbia. Missouri hosts Wichita State on Friday.

To say that Missouri men’s basketball has had a turbulent start to the season may be an understatement. The Tigers have shown flashes of good basketball, showing a fast-paced offense against Central Michigan at times and coming back against SMU after being down as many as 13 points.

They’ve also shown signs of what could be a very long season. Getting thoroughly beaten by Kansas City, which was picked to finish sixth in the Summit League, and getting dominated by Florida State in the Jacksonville Classic championship game show the other side of a noticeably inconsistent team.

Missouri needs to find consistency, perhaps now more than any other point of the season. The Tigers host Wichita State on Friday, the first game of a formidable portion of their nonconference schedule. Games against No. 4 Kansas, No. 14 Illinois and Liberty — all NCAA Tournament qualifiers last season — are on the horizon before starting SEC play.

But before Missouri can shift its focus to those games, the Shockers come to Columbia. Another tournament team from a year ago, Wichita State is 3-1, its lone loss an 82-78 decision against No. 17 Arizona. However, the Shockers have kept games a little too close for comfort, with only their 65-51 win over Tarleton State being by a margin larger than six points.

Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin will have his hands full with one Shocker in particular.

Tyson Etienne may be the best player coming to Mizzou Arena until SEC play begins. The 6-foot-2 sophomore from Englewood, New Jersey, is Wichita State’s top scorer, averaging 18.8 points in 37 minutes. Etienne is a potential prospect to watch for the NBA Draft, as it surprised some that he came back for a second year of school.

The Shockers’ next best scorer, Ricky Council IV, averages 11 points

Missouri’s top scorer, Kobe Brown, averages 16.

Expect a defensive game from Missouri, especially as the Tigers try to limit Etienne’s impact. The Tigers could be in for another defensive game like the one against SMU, with Wichita State averaging 64 points allowed.

Missouri’s bumpy 3-2 start could easily get worse Friday if the game goes south, especially given Etienne’s ability from deep. It’s been easy to see that the Tigers’ biggest weakness on defense is stopping the deep threat. Kansas City’s Evan Gilyard II dropped 28 points, Central Michigan’s Jermain Jackson Jr. hit 19 points and SMU’s Kendric Davis finished with 29. That makes Martin’s biggest key stopping Etienne.

If this ends as another defeat in a winnable game, it may well be the long season Missouri fans have dreaded since the opening tip.

  • Missouri soccer and men's basketball beat writer, Fall 2021. Reach me at anthony.kristensen17@gmail.com, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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