College Sports

Cuonzo Martin working with freshman Jeremiah Tilmon to stay out of foul trouble

Jeremiah Tilmon on fouls, Mizzou's scrimmages

Missouri freshman center Jeremiah Tilmon discusses his performance in Missouri's preseason.
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Missouri freshman center Jeremiah Tilmon discusses his performance in Missouri's preseason.

Jeremiah Tilmon stole the show in Missouri’s exhibition game against Kansas on Oct. 22, showing off his athleticism and post moves against one of the best teams in the country.

Now the Tigers just have to keep him on the floor.

Tilmon fouled out against the Jayhawks despite having seven fouls to use, two more than a regular college game allows.

“Dude how do you do that,” Missouri junior forward Kevin Puryear said. “Seven fouls in 13 minutes.”

Tilmon, a 6-foot-10 freshman, told reporters Tuesday that he also fouled out in Missouri’s Sunday scrimmage against Wisconsin, which was closed to the public, and knows it’s something he needs to work on if the team is to have a good season.

“(Cuonzo) told me that I earned all of them,” he said. “He told me I have to work when I’m playing defense keep my arm off. I noticed when I watched film I was getting a lot of fouls off pushing off me arm.”

Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin said Tuesday that two of Tilmon’s fouls against Wisconsin had to do with extending his arm, which is something that the two can work on in practice.

Against Wisconsin, Tilmon was matched up against Ethan Happ, an All-American candidate, and Tilmon said it was a learning experience.

“I like his game,” he said. “He’s real strong and plays smart with the ball. I learned a lot from him. He fouled me out actually.”

Tilmon said that he struggled with foul trouble in high school, some of which was because he was double-teamed a lot.

“I figured when I got to college it was going to be more one-on-one and I’d get to bang more,” he said. “It’s not that either. I have to keep my hands off.”

Tilmon showed off his range at Mizzou Madness, hitting a three followed by a half-court shot in the event’s shooting contest and said the display matched the number of threes he made in his entire high school career.

While Missouri is loaded with perimeter shooters Michael Porter Jr., Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett, Tilmon said there could be times where he has the ball in his hand and won’t just be posting up.

“There’s going to be a couple plays where you probably see me shooting the ball a lot more,” he said.

Tilmon’s foul trouble was part of the difference in Missouri’s loss to Kansas because with him on the bench, the Tigers didn’t have an answer for Jayhawks center Udoka Azubuike.

Martin said he isn’t too worried about Tilmon’s early struggles because they’re all fixable issues and Martin said his fellow East St. Louis, Ill. native is very coachable.

“To his credit, he plays at the same level, and he’s quick learner,” Martin said. “We’re a different team when he’s not on the floor.”

Mizzou basketball coach Cuonzo Martin met with media Tuesday, less than a week before the Nov. 10 season opener against Iowa State. Martin said practice will fix some of freshman forward Jeremiah Tilmon’s foul problems.

Point guard rotation

Martin said the staff is still trying to figure out the best point guard situation as the Nov. 10 season opener against Iowa State approaches. Terrence Phillips, Jordan Geist and Blake Harris have all seen time there with CJ Roberts and Kassius Robertson also getting some looks.

“He played it a lot the last game. We look at different guys at that position,” Martin said of Robertson. “I thought he did a really good job with it. Older guy, experienced guy, understands it, can make shots, can make plays.

“But if he’s at that position, what we don’t want to do is take away his ability to be aggressive when it comes to scoring.”

Stewart statue

Martin was asked about Norm Stewart’s statue dedication, which will happen before the Iowa State game. “I was going to say long overdue but someone would be mad at me for saying that.”

Alex Schiffer: 816-234-4064, @TheSchiffMan