Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — D’Angelo Allen put up some personal bests in the Tigers’ 78-73 defeat of Elon on Thursday. The Missouri freshman played for 21 minutes, scored 12 points — matching the total of his last five games put together — and pulled down seven rebounds.
“I feel like I had a good game but not my best game,” Allen said after the game. “I can do much better things.”
“Running, getting into shape and everything like that,” he said. “They call me fat a little bit.”
Fellow podium speaker Keith Shamburger chimed in: “That’s his nickname. Fat Boy.”
Allen, whose 6-foot-7, 220-pound frame doesn’t exactly come off as chunky, has provided a burst for the 5-4 Tigers off the bench — out of shape or not.
“If I can get in shape and lose some weight a little bit,” Allen said, “I think I can be a good role player to this team, as a fat boy.”
The Dallas native made the most of his role Thursday, especially during a second-half stretch when he turned his own missed dunk, a stray Johnathan Williams III layup and an off-target Deuce Bello 3-point shot into three consecutive put-back scores to keep Elon at bay.
“He is a guy that brings energy,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “He plays pretty good out on the middle of the floor. He makes pretty good passes. He’s a guy who understands his role, I think. He doesn’t try to do things he can’t do most of the time. He tries to do the right thing, and 12 and 7, that’s pretty good.”
That source of energy has been something this team, with its five freshmen and two transfers, has desperately been seeking.
“We need guys like that,” Anderson said. “We have some guys, you’ve heard me say this, that don’t exude a lot of energy on the court. They don’t look (energetic). They are, but it doesn’t look that way. He’s a guy that looks like he’s — you never know what’s going to happen.”
Allen has certainly brought an element of unpredictability to the team, good and bad. He and teammate Jakeenan Gant were suspended briefly in September following arrests on suspicion of assault. Allen, an erratic interview who at times refers to himself in third-person, admitted Thursday the Tigers might have taken Elon lightly after Missouri’s big first-half lead. He implied that a comeback win would’ve meant more for the Phoenix against a team from a higher division, though both Elon and Missouri are Division I teams.
Anderson recruited Allen out of Kimball High School in Dallas without having seen him play, though assistant coach Tim Fuller had seen him. Allen also received offers from Georgetown, Arkansas, Marquette and Oklahoma, among others.
In his first year of college play, Allen has shown glimpses of providing an inside presence, something Missouri has lacked this season. He spent seven times as many minutes on the court Thursday as senior Keanau Post, who typically backs up starting center Ryan Rosburg.
Allen shot 4-of-5 from the field in the second half and hauled in four offensive rebounds.
“He always plays hard, and he’s going to give us that no matter what, because he goes so hard every night,” Shamburger said.
Allen’s role has typically been to provide defensive minutes off the bench, but his recent play might have Anderson increasing his time on the court.
“He’s competing,” Anderson said. “Here’s the deal, and I said this in April: You’ve got to compete, and he competes. It’s not always pretty. He makes mistakes, but when he makes them he’s going. And what he says is true.
“He’s got to get in better shape. He understands that. But I think he understands what he can do to help our team win.”
Allen and the Tigers will get a chance to compete again today against 7-2 Xavier at Mizzou Arena (3 p.m. ESPN2). Missouri’s defense will be put to the test against the Muskateers, who rank third in the country in assists per game, sixth in field-goal percentage and 14th in points per game.
“We know they’re a good team,” Shamburger said after Thursday’s game. “It’s a big game Saturday. We’ve got one day to prepare for it. We’re just going to go at it tomorrow, practice hard, and we’ll be ready Saturday.”
Then Allen, unsolicited, decided to jump in on the final player-directed question of the night: “They’re just going to hear ‘M-I-Z, Z-O-U.’”
The freshman got up, clapped his hands once, and left the podium.
Anderson sat there with a bemused look on his face.
“Dallas,” he said.