Through Missouri’s first five games of the season, Jeremiah Tilmon picked up fouls as if he had a magnet attached to him when he was on the floor for the Tigers.
Recently, it appears he’s found a way to repel them.
Tilmon had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double in Missouri’s 100-77 win over Green Bay on Saturday night. The 6-foot-10 freshman center played 23 minutes and finished the game with just two personal fouls.
In Missouri’s win Monday over Miami-Ohio , he finished with 12 points and six boards, but head coach Cuonzo Martin was disappointed in Tilmon despite the fact he finished with just one foul.
Martin said Tilmon wasn’t as aggressive against Miami and needed to be more assertive while avoiding the referee’s whistle.
On Saturday, he did just that.
With 17:45 left in the second half, graduate transfer Kassius Robertson found Tilmon underneath the basket for a dunk.
A few minutes later, Tilmon had a man on him and used a post move to completely fake him out for an easy layup. The following play he fed senior forward Jordan Barnett for a dunk.
All three plays weren’t interrupted by the officials.
“He was just what we usually need him to be,” Barnett said. “He was unstoppable on the glass. He had seven offensive rebounds — that says a lot.”
Tilmon’s struggles with foul trouble first became apparent in Missouri’s preseason exhibition loss to Kansas. Despite having seven fouls to use, which is two more than a regular game, Tilmon fouled out with almost six minutes remaining in the game.
In Missouri’s blowout win over Wagner on Nov. 13, Tilmon played just 10 minutes, and he only played six minutes against Utah three days later. He fouled out in both games.
“First five games I fouled out, I just felt like I was being immature,” he said. “I was too busy worrying about people scoring on me. If they had the bucket I’d just foul them, and I can’t do that on the bench, I want to help my team out.
“I just had to grow up.”
Tilmon said his recent play has been partly because he’s let the game come to him more, rather than try and force things.
In practice, Martin assigns Tilmon three fouls when the team is about to scrimmage to try and get him to play smarter so he can stay on the floor for the real game.
Against Green Bay, both teams were trash-talking, which is how junior forward Kevin Puryear wound up getting ejected after a technical.
Tilmon said it’s a natural part of his game to go at it with opposing players, which is why Martin has to remind Tilmon to not let it get the best of him.
“I always try to tell him it’s not a wrestling match,” Martin said. “It’s still basketball, keep your composure.”