Jankovic comes off the bench to spark Mizzou past Tennessee State

Story by Eric Short
Photos by Karen Mitchell

Alex Oriakhi (42) congratulates Stefan Jankovic after Missouri's 68-38 win over Tennessee State. Jankovic came of the bench to ignite the Tigers in the second half, scoring 16 points.

Alex Oriakhi (42) congratulates Stefan Jankovic after Missouri’s 68-38 win over Tennessee State. Jankovic came of the bench to ignite the Tigers in the second half, scoring 14 points.

Stefan Jankovic didn’t play in the last Missouri game and clocked only four minutes from the two before that. So on Saturday the freshman needed a way to reassert himself on the Tiger’s front line.

With 14:20 left in the second half, the Canadian forward did just that.

After Laurence Bowers missed a short jumper, Jankovic skied from the right side of the basket and swiftly stuffed the ball through the rim, igniting both the Missouri crowd and the Tigers offense.

Jankovic finished with 14 points, all in the second half, to help the Tigers defeat Tennessee State 68-38

Jankovic said his “always be ready to go” mentality is the reason for him being such an instant contributor.

“Coach always tells me to be ready, to be a spark plug or whatever the team needs,” Jankovic said.

Senior Alex Oriakhi, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds, also complimented Jankovic on his inspired play off the bench.

“As soon as he came in I told him, ‘we need your energy’ and that is exactly what he gave us, whether it was the tip dunk or playing defense and contesting shots, we needed him,” Oriakhi said.

Missouri’s energetic defense stifled Tennessee State in the second half, holding them to 23.8 percent shooting from the field.

Tigers’ coach Frank Haith said that tight defense and a commitment to rebounding is what is currently defining his team

“We want to rebound and defend night in and night out,” Haith said. “ You talk to any of those guys they are going to say that the way to get minutes is to play defense.”

The Tigers are going to have to find another open spot for minutes next week when highly touted transfer Jabari Brown becomes eligible to play.

Brown, a transfer from Oregon, is expected to contribute right away for Missouri but Haith said that he doesn’t know exactly what the freshman’s role will be

“I think he does more than just shoot, I think he can score and we are going to challenge him to play defense,” Haith said.  “He’s not going to start but he will be in there.”

Senior Laurence Bowers was the leading scorer for the Tigers with a game high 18 points. Bowers and Oriakhi grabbed 10 rebounds each.

Missouri’s next game is against South Carolina State at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17 at Mizzou Arena.

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