Xavier Pinson shows excellence on the court

Pinson sparks recent success for Missouri

Jackson Meyer, Reporter

Mizzou basketball has had a season full of rollercoasters and ups and downs. Early in the year, Mizzou showed their fierce defensive play during the non-conference schedule and looked like a contender for a Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular-season title. But quickly during the non-conference schedule, fans realized a major flaw: Mizzou could not put a basketball into a hoop. Whether it was a lack of confidence or other reasons that will go unknown, Mizzou shot poorly no matter what game they had played in. Early in conference play, they saw the same struggles, which resulted in the team going 1-8 in their first nine games in SEC play. But recently, the Tigers have seemed to turn a new leaf and as of right now, there is one guy that has the team on his back and that would be none other than sophomore guard Xavier Pinson.

Xavier Pinson’s recent outburst of success has shocked nearly everyone. It all started in Columbia on Saturday, Feb. 15 when Missouri took on Auburn, in front of the largest and rowdiest home crowd of the year. Mizzou had just come off a near upset against at the time, 25th ranked LSU, and were looking for an upset win at home. Heading into the game, Auburn entered the game with a record of 22-2 and boasted one of the best offenses in the country. With Missouri’s recent struggles on the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers needed someone to step up big time. It would be none other than sophomore guard Xavier Pinson. 

Pinson exploded and shot 10/12 with 28 points against Auburn, as well as junior guard Dru Smith adding another 28 points. Pinson showed tremendous confidence when driving to the basket and he showed his knack for getting to the free-throw line, constantly driving towards the rim and initiating contact on taller, stronger players. In the Tiger’s next game against Mississippi, Pinson dropped a new career-high, 32, and led the team to a 71-68 victory.

Pinson showed flashes of the potential player he could be as a freshman and his sophomore year has been even more impressive. As a freshman, Pinson averaged six points a game, and this year he is averaging just above ten. Pinson’s efficiency has gone down quite a bit, however, as he shot 40 percent from three last season, while this season he has dropped to 31 percent. Even with these drop-offs, his game has noticeably improved. In the summer, head coach Cuonzo Martin raved about his work ethic as well as his ability to stay composed and not make careless mistakes. 

Now it’s safe to say that Pinson probably won’t be able to keep this pace of play, simply because no basketball player can ever stay this hot. But the games between Auburn and Mississippi have put him on fans radars as a potential star. With his recent success, one can infer that Martin may even give him the green light to take over games as he pleases, for he has shown his ability to come up big in the clutch. In fact, one of the best things about Pinson’s game has been his ability to make free throws, no matter the situation. So far this year, he is shooting around 80 percent at the line and has made 20 of his last 23. 

It’ll be interesting to see if Martin starts turning to Pinson more often now after his recent success. Pinson has the tools to do it all and become the number one option for the team, but we will have to see if he can mold into that in the last few conference games, as well as the SEC tournament.