Last year, Missouri fell to UMKC in their season opener. The loss foreshadowed a difficult season of disappointing outcomes. Last night, the Tigers made sure destiny wouldn’t repeat itself.
Mizzou kicked off the 2015-2016 campaign with an impressive 83-74 home win against the Wofford Terriers. The offensive attack was led by freshman Kevin Puryear (20 pts) and sophomore Namon Wright (18 pts).
The Tigers came out of the gate slowly, suffering an 8-2 deficit because of sloppy play. However, Mizzou picked up the pace and ignited a 20-2 run beginning at the 15:10 mark in the first half.
Missouri never looked back from there, stifling the Terriers on defense and dominating the frontcourt. The postal attack was lead by Puryear, who impressed both down low and beyond the paint. Puryear shot 8-14 from the field, including a three and multiple mid-range jumpers.
“Down the road I look to have many more moments like that,” said Puryear after his performance.
Both Anderson and Wright said they expected this type of performance out of Puryear.
“I gotta be honest, he’s been playing like that. He’s got a little confidence in his shot, his mid-range is good, he’s one of our better post up guys, he’s played well since the day he’s walked on campus,” said Coach Anderson.
“That’s a pretty good kick start to a career right there,” said Wofford Coach Mike Young on Puryear.
Kevin Puryear stands among a freshman class that has energized the rest of the team. Both Puryear and Terrence Phillips were seen making hustle plays and gesturing their hands to pump up the Mizzou Arena crowd.
“They (Freshmen) were calm and composed,” said Namon Wright following Mizzou’s victory. “I think that was a big difference from this year and last. I feel like last year we would have gotten down on ourselves a bit.”
Wright also shined in Mizzou’s victory. He splashed a trio of three’s and boosted the Tigers when Wofford threatened in the second half.
This win reigns impressive for Missouri. Wofford was 28-7 last year and clinched birth in the NCAA tournament as a #12 seed. “I still don’t want to face them,” said Anderson after Mizzou’s win. Freshman Fletcher MaGee led Wofford with 22 points, but Missouri’s defense held the Terriers to just 38.2% from the field. Mizzou shot 56%.
The 2015-2016 season got off to a good note for the 1-0 Tigers. They simply have more energy, more passion, and a very bright future. Kim Anderson radiated that throughout the postgame press conference. This team is different.
“It sure feels better than it did 365 days ago.”