Missouri basketball signee Torrence Watson gave fans a show on his future home court during the MFA Oil-Break Time Shootout on Saturday at Mizzou Arena. Watson had the ball on the last possession with a chance to tie or win the game, but his contested 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out, and Sikeston came away with a 74-72 victory over Whitfield.
“Torrence has always played well at Mizzou Arena, and that's a great thing to hear for all Mizzou fans and alums like myself," Whitfield coach Mike Potsou said. "He is a great person and today he really stepped up in a variety of ways. Not only making shots, but slashing to the basket and making some big plays on the boards.”
Outside of the final shot, Watson showed Tigers fans why they should be excited for his arrival next season. He scored 37 points, the third most in the event's history, and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss. Watson flashed his versatile scoring ability, hitting multiple 3s and finishing at the rim through contact.
Although Watson played every minute of the game, fatigue wasn't a factor.
"I was feeling fine," Watson said. "I’m used to playing the whole game. My teammates play hard for me, so when I’m tired I have to play hard for them as well."
Watson was the game's leading scorer, but he didn't win the MVP award. That honor went to Sikeston's own Division I commit, Fred Thatch, who will play for Saint Louis University next season. Thatch scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds-in the game.
Potsou said the team's goal in defending Thatch was to keep him out of the paint. That strategy was partially effective, but the team's 3-2 zone gave Sikeston plenty of open 3-point shots, which it took full advantage of.
The Bulldogs took an early 19-11 lead in the first quarter as their 2-2-1 full court press caused problems for Whitfield. Watson, however, exploded in the second quarter, scoring 15 points and giving the Warriors a 43-35 halftime lead as it outscored Sikeston 32-16 in the quarter.
In the second half, the Bulldog's ability to force turnovers got them back into the game. By the fourth quarter, Sikeston had started to figure out how to play against Whitfield's zone, and Parker Long, who scored 16 points in the game, hit multiple big 3s to help his team hold off the Watson-lead Warriors.
Although his team suffered a disappointing loss today, Watson is looking forward to playing for Missouri next year.
"I love playing on Mizzou’s court," Watson said. "I’m very excited, really excited to play here next year. With coach Cuonzo coming, he is a great guy and a great man. I can’t wait to learn from him."
Supervising editor is Brooks Holton.