Dynamic duo of Brown and Clarkson likely to carry Tigers all season
NOV 27, 2013 10:00a ET
First, the Tigers' big three of Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross will eventually evolve into a big two this season. Brown and Clarkson are both averaging over 18 points a game, and on Monday they combined for 46 of the Tigers' total. That combination point total is likely to rise as Brown and Clarkson get more familiar with creating space for each other on the floor.
Second, IUPUI, as Gardner-Webb did Saturday, played almost exclusively zone to try to cut off the guards' hard-to-stop slashing.
And while Missouri struggled at times against the zone, Brown was free to do what he does best -- shoot long-range jumpers. Brown nailed 5 of 8 3-point tries on his way to a game-high 24 points.
"I told (Brown) before the game that if you have an open look at the rim, shoot," said Tigers assistant coach Tim Fuller, in his last game subbing for the suspended Frank Haith. "We've emphasized driving to the rim a lot, but if you have an open look, shoot it. I trust him."
Brown seemed to think he was due for a hot-shooting night.
"It happens sometimes; each game is different," Brown said of his hot hand. "We have confidence in ourselves as shooters. We prepare the same way, whether we had an off game before or a good night like we did tonight.
"We knew as long as we took good shots, they would fall."
Brown set a career high with his 24-point effort, but he doesn't necessarily believe it will be up to him each night to shoot over the top.
"I am just trying to help the team get wins in whatever way," Brown said. "One game it will be me, or Earnest, or Jordan. I just credit them for help getting me the ball."
Clarkson, who had 22 points and four assists Monday, also sees the Tigers' early season as a learning opportunity.
"Teams started playing a zone on us, giving us a different look, so we really had a chance to work on our zone offense," Clarkson said. "During this time we really got better at executing on offense. With the new defenses we have seen, I think we did a good job these last two games, even though they were kind of close."
Fuller expects the Tigers to see a lot more zone, not solely because of Clarkson and Brown, but also because of the rule changes about hand checking.
"I think there's always been an emphasis on guarding the free throw line, and that is something that you are not able to do (now)," Fuller said. "I think as coaches we are still getting used to it. What is a foul and what is not a foul? I know our players have to be adjusting to it. I know we tell our players to drive the ball to the basket ... but if you get an open look, take it."
Fuller simply is happy he has Clarkson and Brown, who can do both.
"I am excited about Jordan and Jabari," Fuller said. " As I see them out there on the floor, it gives any coach confidence to finish games when you have two high-powered wings that can play the way they play."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.