K.J. Walton (Nate Latsch-Scout.com)

K.J. Walton Leads Missouri Hoops Past Tulane

After beating Tulane on Sunday, Missouri finishes 1-2 at the Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando.

K.J. Walton came up clutch for the Missouri basketball team on Sunday. 

Walton scored 18 of his career-high 20 points in the second half as the Tigers rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Tulane 67-62 in the seventh-place game of the Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando.

“I’m proud of my guys," Missouri coach Kim Anderson told reporters. "We played a great game on Thursday against Xavier then came back on Friday and were horrible, didn’t play well at all. I thought we did a great job of preparing for Tulane."

Walton, a sophomore guard, came off the bench to finish with 20 points in 19 minutes. He made six of eight field-goal attempts and eight of nine from the free throw line. 

“We got a great performance from K.J. Walton off the bench and got the ball to the hole and that really helped us," Anderson said.

Freshman guard Frankie Hughes bounced back from a rough game against Davidson on Friday to score 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including two 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Kevin Puryear scored 11 points. Senior forward Russell Woods grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

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After losing to Xavier in overtime on Thursday and losing to Davidson on Friday, Missouri (2-2) trailed Tulane (1-4) 32-22 at halftime after shooting just 33.3 percent (10 of 30) from the field and 20 percent (two of 10) from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. 

Tulane knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half, including three from Cameron Reynolds. A junior guard, Reynolds had 12 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 20 points.

“At halftime we talked about the need to get the ball to the basket," Anderson said. "We had not shot a free throw in the first half and that’s no criticism of the officials, we hadn’t taken it to the hole and in the second half we started taking it to the basket."

Puryear, who had two points at halftime, was one of the catalysts in the final 20 minutes for Missouri. He scored nine of the Tigers’ first 11 points over the first 5 minutes of the second half to get them back in the game. 

Walton took over from there, scoring on drives to the basket and at the free throw line. He and sophomore guard Jordan Geist, who scored all of his five points in the final 4:49, led Missouri down the stretch. 

The Tigers out-scored Tulane 40-18 in points in the paint, 32-16 in bench scoring and 17-4 in second-change points while out-rebounding their opponent 43-32. Geist grabbed seven rebounds. 

Tulane, which had three players score in double figures, missed its final 11 field goal attempts over the final 2:02. 

Missouri is back in action next Saturday, Nov. 26, against Northwestern State (1-2) at Mizzou Arena. Northwestern State opened the season with losses against Texas A&M and Oklahoma before beating Division III Le Tourneau 92-87 on Friday. 

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

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