The Missouri Tigers basketball team opened the season with a 66-59 exhibition win over Division II Central Missouri on Friday night at Mizzou Arena.
The host Tigers trailed by one point with 14:47 remaining in the second half, then led by as many as 18 points with 9:26 remaining before securing the seven-point victory at the final buzzer.
“First thing is, you have to give Central Missouri credit,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson told reporters. “Certainly we knew coming in here, that they were a much better team than their record indicated a year ago. That’s probably the most disappointed winning locker room I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to take anything away from Central Missouri, but I think we could learn a lot from this. We won the game, and we had to do some things to win the game. You know, I’m disappointed, to be candid with you. I thought we played nervous. We had a lot of shots we missed that were close-in shots. We obviously shot the ball a little bit better in the second half than we did the first half. But we turned it over 16 times and you can’t really do that.
“But, we have a lot to work on, we were going to have a day off tomorrow, we’re not now. So we’re going to get back to work. The great thing about a game like this, and I know there are a lot of people who are disappointed, but the great thing about this is we can learn a lot, we still won the game. So, we’ll come back tomorrow and get to work and we’ve got nine days until we play again. This will be a good teaching opportunity and next Sunday you’ll see a different team.”
Freshman guard Frankie Hughes, the lone newcomer to crack the starting lineup, led Missouri with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including three 3-pointers. He added six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.
Sophomore point guard Terrence Phillips scored 11 with a team-high four assists and sophomore guard Jordan Geist added 11 off the bench. Sophomore forward Kevin Puryear and freshman forward Willie Jackson each grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Missouri led 23-19 at halftime after a rough first half shooting the ball.
The Tigers made just eight of 27 field goal attempts (29.6 percent) in the first half and made just one of six 3-point attempts (16.7 percent).
“I think we just played too fast,” Phillips told reporters of the first-half struggles. “We wanted to push the tempo, we wanted to get out and go. But I think offensively in the first half we just played too fast. We got away from everything we’ve been doing. I don’t know if it was the fans. I don’t know if it was just our first game, in general. In the second half we slowed it down. I thought we executed a lot better than we did the first half in the half court set. Defensively, we were getting stops, we just couldn’t execute in the open court.”
Those shooting numbers improved dramatically over the final 20 minutes.
Missouri shot 51.7 percent (15-29) from the field and 83.3 percent (five of six) from 3-point range to earn the victory.
The Tigers will open the regular season on Sunday, Nov. 13, against visiting Alabama A&M at Mizzou Arena. Alabama A&M went 11-18 last season.
“Honestly, nobody’s going to play perfect every night, nobody’s going to play good every night,” Phillips said. “This is one of those nights for us. Thank God we got it out of the way early. So, like Coach said, we’re going to get back to the gym tomorrow, we’re going to get better these next five days by watching film, working in the weight room and on the court. And just get better. We have Alabama A&M next week, and we’re going to take it one day at a time and gradually get better as a team. I don’t expect us to play like that again.”
Want more BlackAndGoldIllustrated.com coverage? Become a member today to get insider information, members-only forums, exclusive videos, team shop offers and ticket discounts. Click HERE to learn more and get a 7-day free trial.