The No. 20 Missouri Tigers enter Wednesday’s matchup against the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station as arguably the best offense in the country.
And even though he’s not a starter, much of the credit for this offensive success is owed to guard Sean East II, who continues to prove himself as one of the most important players for coach Dennis Gates.
Gates used a clever camping analogy to describe East II’s impact after Saturday’s 85-82 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores. And based on his recent play combined with the efficiency Mizzou’s offense has had, the comparison might just be a perfect one as the Tigers get set for a two-game road trip.
“Sean East is a tempo starter,” Gates said. “When you’re out camping … it’s important that you keep a fire kit ready. He’s our fire kit.”
A consistent sixth man off the bench who hasn’t started a game this season, East II averages 8.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while having the fourth-highest field-goal percentage (51.6) on the team.
A crafty and stingy point guard, East II seems to always find ways to make plays for himself and his teammates. This even led Gates to admit that he doesn’t want to take him out of the game due to the effect he has on the outcome.
“His energy, his enthusiasm, his effort, his patience, his mentality – I don’t want him to ever look to the sideline, I want him to play because his instincts are better than a lot of people in this country.”
East II tied guard Nick Honor for a team-high 32 minutes against the Commodores. But yet, he only attempted four shots and had five points. Still, with a team and season-high seven assists, East II clearly had on impact on what appeared to be a pass-first night.
“He has a pass-first mentality, but he also has a scoring-first mentality, depending on which side of the bed he wakes up on,” Gates said. “We want him to stay aggressive.”
The Tigers – despite dropping their second game of the season on Jan. 4 against Arkansas – are rolling, as they already have one more win this season than they did all of last year.
But against an Aggies squad that has won four straight after a sluggish, relying on East II while keeping a foot on the gas pedal will be vital in order to get an SEC win on the road.
The Tigers (13-2) and Aggies (10-5) tip off from Reed Arena on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. CT.
You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7
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