K.J. Walton (Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports)

Mizzou Hoops Opens Season With Scrimmage

Sophomore guard K.J. Walton led all scorers in Missouri's scrimmage with 14 points.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri Tigers team opened Friday night’s Halloween & Hoops scrimmage with coach Kim Anderson emerging from a coffin near mid court after his players were introduced. 

Anderson then told the Mizzou Arena crowd, which to that point had witnessed a dance routine by the Missouri women’s squad, a three-point shooting contest and then a dunk contest, that he hopes to prove the critics of his team wrong.

The new-look Tigers, recently picked to finish last in the Southeastern Conference after winning a combined 19 games the past two seasons, showed what they have to work with on Friday as the black team defeated the gold team 35-22.

“I thought overall the first half was good for the black team,” Anderson said. “The second half the gold team played pretty well and executed better.”


The scrimmage, which included two 8-minute halves, basically matched the Tigers’ veterans against the team’s newcomers — though sophomore guard Cullen VanLeer switched from the black to the gold at halftime.

“I thought the first half for the black shirts was pretty good,” Anderson said. I thought they got out and they pushed the ball.”

The black team, which led 26-12 at halftime, was led by a game-high 14 points from sophomore guard K.J. Walton, who made four of six attempts from the field and five of six free throw attempts. 

Sophomore forward Kevin Puryear had a game-high 10 rebounds.

“That’s really something that I have challenged him, we as a staff, have challenged him, ‘Hey, we need you to rebound,’” Anderson said. “Last year, I don’t know what he averaged rebounding, but it wasn’t a whole lot. No one averaged a whole lot last year. So we’ve challenged him to be a better rebounder. … So hopefully Kevin will continue that.”

Puryear added six points for the winning side, as did sophomore guard Terrence Phillips. VanLeer scored five points in the first half.

Junior forward Jordan Barnett, who transferred from Texas midway through last season, led the gold team with 11 points on four-of-eight shooting and knocked down three of six 3-point attempts. 

“This is the only game he can play until December — the only time he can play before Dec. 17,” Anderson said. “We wanted to get him as much time as possible. Certainly he’ll bring something to our team when he becomes eligible. For now other guys have to pick up the slack.”

Freshman guard Frankie Hughes was second on the gold squad with eight points, but it came on a three-for-13 shooting night. He attempted seven 3-pointers and made two. 

“Frankie is not shy. Frankie will shoot the ball. But we want Frankie to shoot the ball. We want Frankie to shoot it and we want Cullen to shoot it when they are open. … They both can shoot the ball really well. Frankie is probably a little more streakier than Cullen. Cullen is maybe a little more consistent, or has been more consistent.”

Next up for the Tigers is a secret scrimmage on Sunday at Creighton — the teams will basically play a controlled scrimmage without any fans or media watching — before holding their lone exhibition game against visiting Central Missouri next Friday. 

“It was good to get out and get up and down with everybody,” Anderson said. “I appreciate the crowd coming out. Hopefully we can learn from this. We’ve got the secret scrimmage on Sunday and then we play next Friday against Central Missouri.”


You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.

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