Missouri's trip to Nashville, Tennessee, for the Southeastern Conference Tournament lasted as long as the chalk predicted it would.

The 12th-seeded Tigers took care of business against 13th-seeded Georgia on Wednesday, defeating the Bulldogs by double digits for the second time in seven days. 

Less than 24 hours later, the Tigers took the Bridgestone Arena court again, but their opponent was far less forgiving Thursday. Missouri was in the game for nearly all 40 minutes but came up short to fifth-seeded Auburn.

Senior guard Jordan Geist put a nice bow on his collegiate career, scoring 55 points over the two games and making a strong case for All-SEC Tournament honors.

Here are observation's from Missouri's pair of postseason games:

Javon Pickett's lingering back injury

After a promising start to his freshman campaign, Javon Pickett struggled down the stretch of the season.

The guard started both of Missouri's games in Nashville but did not score in either contest, shooting at a combined 0-for-12 clip from the field. In fact, after a 15-point showing back on Feb. 23 at Florida, Pickett shot a combined 6-for-40 (15 percent) from the field over his last five games of the season.

It was strange to see from Pickett, who for much of the season produced more than any of the three freshmen in coach Cuonzo Martin's rotation. 

After Thursday's loss, Martin revealed a potential cause for some of Pickett's struggles, stating that the guard has "probably" been hurt for about a month. Pickett missed just one game this season — on Mar. 9 vs. Ole Miss, due to a back injury.

Of course, that may frighten some Tigers fans after last season's Michael Porter Jr. back injury saga. Without question, back issues do tend to linger, but Pickett now has many months to prepare himself for next season. It's promising that Pickett missed only one game, and then returned to the court for two tournament games.

Torrence Watson's volatility

It was undoubtedly a tale of two games for freshman guard Torrence Watson at the SEC Tournament. 

Making his postseason debut, Watson struggled Wednesday against Georgia. The St. Louis product scored four points, shooting 0-for-5 from the field. But that certainly did not deter him.

Watson played a nice second fiddle to Geist on Thursday, pouring in 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from behind the arc against Auburn. Such is life for freshmen in high-major college basketball.

In a rookie, you hope to see flashes. Watson did not excel on a nightly basis this season, but his sparks did turn to fire down the stretch of the year.

Watson's Wednesday showing was the only time he failed to reach double figures in scoring over the season's final six contests. That stretch proceeded a nine-point outing at Florida on Feb. 23.

Watson progressed quite a bit throughout his freshman season. After all, it took him eight games to reach double figures for the first time, when he put up 12 vs. UT Arlington on Dec. 4.

The ultimate games of Watson's freshman campaign should leave Tigers fans hopeful for a bright future.

Mitchell Smith's nice tournament

On a few occasions this season, Martin lamented his power forwards Kevin Puryear, Mitchell Smith and K.J. Santos to increase their production. In the SEC Tournament, one member of the trio stepped up.

Redshirt sophomore Mitchell Smith, playing limited minutes off Missouri's bench, did about as much as you could ask of the 6-foot-10 forward.

First Smith went for efficiency, putting up six points without missing a field goal in 16 minutes vs. Georgia on Wednesday. Smith also added four rebounds.

The next day vs. Auburn, Smith kept it going with eight points, including a 2-for-3 clip from 3-point range. If deep shooting becomes a factor for Smith, he could be a larger factor in Martin's rotation next season and beyond.

Supervising editor is Reed Koutelas. 

  • A Missouri men's basketball beat writer, David is a senior studying journalism from Brooklyn, New York. He has attended 356 sports venues. He can be reached at: davidsack@mail.missouri.edu

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