Missouri freshman guard Montaque Gill-Caesar returned after a three-game absence Saturday against Tennessee, but he played limited minutes and wasn’t very effective.
Gill-Caesar, who had been sidelined with back spasms, missed all four shots, including a three-pointer, and picked up three fouls in nine minutes. He played only two minutes in the second half and finished with a rebound and a turnover.
“He’s not 100 percent,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “It’s good to have him back, but obviously he’s got to get stronger and get his conditioning back, kind of get a feel back for the game.”
Additionally, Anderson said freshman guard Tramaine Isabell sat out the first half because of poor effort in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
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“I told him before the game that I probably wasn’t going to play him in the first half, but I hope he can learn from this and grow from this,” Anderson said. “Tramaine has had a below-average practice performance the last couple of days … but he came in in the second half and made some shots.”
Isabell provided a spark in the second half, hitting all three of his shots and finished with eight points in 13 minutes. He also had two of MU’s three turnovers during a disastrous late-game sequence.
Meanwhile, Anderson said junior forward Ryan Rosburg “is fine” and isn’t suspended.
Rosburg didn’t see the court for the first time since the Tigers’ first-round loss to Colorado State during the NCAA Tournament his freshman year.
Finally, junior guard Deuce Bello has been reinstated from an indefinite suspension that began before the Oklahoma State game.
Bello, however, didn’t play Saturday against Tennessee.
“He fulfilled his requirements for reinstatement,” Anderson said. “He actually sprained his ankle a couple days ago, and he hasn’t really been practicing for the last couple weeks.”
Anderson seemed optimistic that Bello, who now has missed the Tigers’ last six games, would be available Wednesday at Texas A&M.
▪ Key play: Tennessee’s Josh Richardson swatted sophomore Wes Clark’s fast-break layup try with 6:48 remaining. It was one of six first-half blocks by the Volunteers.
▪ Key stat: Missouri trailed 26-24, the eighth time this season the Tigers scored 25 or fewer in the first half. It only happened 11 times in the last four years combined.
▪ Key play: Tied at 46-46 with 3:33 left, Missouri committed three straight turnovers that led to six Tennessee points.
▪ Key stat: Tennessee went 18 of 20 from the free-throw line, including seven of eight in the final 1:12. Missouri was only three of six at the stripe for the game.