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Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin visits Stephen F. Austin locker room after game

Martin says he’s never done it before and that the Lumberjacks are a “hell of a team.”

NCAA Basketball: Stephen F. Austin at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

After Missouri eked out an 82-81 win over Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday, Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin did something that he says he’s never done before.

He went into the Lumberjacks’ locker room to congratulate them on a hard-fought game and tell them how impressed he was with the team’s effort and with head coach Kyle Keller.

Watch the full video here:

With wins at LSU and Louisiana Tech, SFA was already off to a great start to the year, so it was not a surprise that the Lumberjacks were competitive against the Tigers. What was a little more surprising — at least to the writer of this here blog post — was how after Mizzou seemed to have finally gained some separation in the second half, SFA fought back. A Southland team trailing by double-digits at an SEC school with 14 minutes to go is not supposed to have a chance to win the game. But an 18-6 run brought the Lumberjacks to within a point with under seven minutes to play, and the Tigers could not breathe easy until time finally ran out.

We were skeptical about Stephen F. Austin’s chances at the start of the season, but now it seems clear that it is the team to beat in the Southland.