COLUMBIA, Mo. — After five consecutive halves of offensive struggles, the Missouri basketball team was able to find its footing in the second half on Tuesday night.
Kim Anderson admitted it, the Tigers were pressing.
Missouri shot 25 percent from the field against North Carolina Central and 35.1 percent against Western Kentucky. The Tigers shot just 29 percent in the first half against Miami.
“We were overanalyzing the game,” said Puryear, sophomore forward, who led Missouri with 19 points. “It started to weigh on us a bit.”
A 3 from Terrence Phillips with 13 seconds left in the first half seemed to hint at a possible turnaround for the second half. Then Missouri came out and knocked down four triples in the first four minutes of play, a pivotal stretch that helped the Tigers (5-3) pull away from RedHawks (4-5) for their second straight win.
Puryear, Hughes and Woods combined for 41 second-half points on 12 of 17 shooting. Missouri’s second-half turnaround marked its most potent offensive display all season.
The Tigers had yet to score more than 50 points in a half all season. They accumulated 55 in the second half against Miami.
“I thought we came out with a little bit more energy and for some reason less tentativeness,” Anderson, Missouri's coach, said. “We did some things schematically that I thought helped us and we got better ball movement.”
The main difference in the second half for the Tigers was perimeter shooting. In the first half, Missouri sank just two of its 13 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. Mizzou shot seven for 16 from three in the second.
An early second-half barrage of triples opened up paint touches and inside scoring for Puryear and Woods. Woods finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in the second half alone, on his way to his first career double-double. Puryear led the team with 19 points.
“I’m really proud of these two big guys,” Anderson said. “(Woods) was relentless, especially in the second half. And Kevin really played hard to post up and took advantage of mismatches.”
Woods credited his coach and teammate.
“Coach A just gave me the confidence,” he said. “Kev kept my head up, he told me to just keep playing and keep fighting. I just came out there and tried to go hard.”
A combination of 3-point efficiency and low-post confidence is something Missouri has been looking for all year to compete at an offensive level with its opponents. A multi-dimensional offense going forward would sharply contrast Missouri’s stagnant tendencies to start the season.
The Tigers will have a chance to prove their offensive worth on Saturday against No. 20 Arizona (7-2), arguably their toughest challenge thus far.
You can follow Charlie Clarke on Twitter at @CWClarke18.
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