Post delivers best performance as a Tiger to help Mizzou knock off LSU
COLUMBIA, Mo. — No one seemed all that impressed when Missouri big man Keanau Post pulled down a career-best 10 rebounds and scored seven points in a game last week. Even though he had turned in his best performance of the season, it came against little-known Lipscomb. And after not leaving the bench against Illinois or Oklahoma State, Post had reason to be motivated.
Well, a lack of minutes should not be a problem for Post any longer. If the 6-foot-11 senior continues to produce as he did in Missouri’s 74-67 overtime victory over LSU on Thursday night at Mizzou Arena, he’d better get his rest. He’s going to be playing a lot.
Post turned in his best game in two years at Missouri against a team with arguably the SEC’s best front line outside of Lexington, Ky. LSU sophomores Jordan Mickey and Jarrell Martin both are considered NBA prospects and have been playing like it. They came in averaging a combined 34.5 points, helping LSU dominate the paint.
But they did not dominate against Post and Missouri. Playing a career-high 29 minutes, Post scored 12 points on six-of-10 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds — including a career-best five on offense — and blocked a career-most three shots. His performance helped Missouri to a 36-24 advantage on points in the paint and limit the LSU stars to nine points each, barely half of their combined average.
"I’m happy he had something good happen," Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. "That’s what he needed."
"It’s my last year and I just want to play," Post said. "I’m going to try and play as hard as I can when I’m out there."
Let’s not get carried away. Post did not dominate, nor did he even make the biggest differences for Missouri. Those were provided by Johnathan Williams III, as usual, and Wes Clark. Williams was a difference-maker all night with a game-high 21 points, his eighth straight with 15 or more, and a team-high 10 rebounds. Clark made a difference when it mattered most, scoring eight straight points that turned a four-point deficit into a four-point lead with 3:33 to go.
After LSU tied the game on Keith Hornsby’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, Clark had a chance to win the game in regulation but his pull-up jumper in the lane hit the back of the rim and bounced out. "It looked as good as the rest of them," Clark said.
Impressively for a young team, Missouri did not let that disappointment linger into overtime. LSU took the lead with two free throws with 2:44 to go but then Williams scored underneath and made a free throw on the next possession to put Missouri ahead for good.
Post’s play, however, has to be as encouraging for the Tigers — almost, anyway — as finally being able to pull out a close game against a quality opponent. While he has been known to be the best player on the floor in practices, Post has not enjoyed much success in games. He has lacked aggressiveness, especially considering he usually is the largest man on the floor at 270 pounds. He had not taken more than six shots in a game before this one.
"It’s frustrating," Post admitted about his time on the bench. "It’d be frustrating for any athlete, but I was in the game as much as anybody else. I tried to be there for my teammates, and be a great person on the bench. Cheer for them and support them as much as I could."
Anderson was candid about his reason for sitting Post. "He wasn’t producing," the first-year coach said. Post got a chance against Lipscomb only because the Bisons played a 6-11, 310-pound center, Chad Lang, whom Anderson figured out early was simply too large for any other Tiger to match.
"I had thought going in if we get into trouble, play Keanau," Anderson said. "I won’t say it was a last resort, but he’s a big body that can help us. He went in and did well and got some confidence. A lot with this team is confidence, just gaining confidence."
One play against LSU should have helped Post’s ego. LSU’s Tim Quarterman took a pass in the left corner and appeared to have an open lane for a dunk until Post stepped in and stuffed him.
"I didn’t want him to dunk it," Post said. "I knew that would be a momentum booster for them so I figured if I get dunked on or not, someone has to try to get in their way."
He immediately followed that by pulling down an offensive rebound and scoring on a put-back. It was the kind of sequence not often seen from the Canadian since he arrived at Missouri as a junior college All-American.
Not until lately, anyway.