DeMar-Velous!

For a bunch whose perceived weakness is its interior size, or lack thereof, the Missouri men's basketball team sure seemed to be a twin tower-powered group in its first game of the 2007-2008 season.


Against Central Michigan in the opening round of the CBE Classic at Mizzou Arena, junior power forward DeMarre Carroll -- playing his first official game in a Mizzou uniform after transferring from Vanderbilt -- lived up to his lofty billing and then some. But when he fell victim to foul trouble, frontcourt partner Leo Lyons made sure the team didn't miss a step en route to an 87-76 victory before a sparse home crowd.

Carroll and Lyons, the 6-foot-8 bookends upon who Mizzou will rely heavily all season, combined for 41 points and 13 rebounds while making 18 of their 21 field-goal attempts. Sure, it was against an undersized team from the Mid-American Conference, but the duo couldn't have surged out of the gate much faster than this.

Carroll, playing his first official game in more than a year-and-a-half, was so fired up before the game that head coach Mike Anderson had to tell him to settle down. He hoisted up a couple of early 3-pointers that both missed, earning a reprimand after the game from Anderson, but made all 10 of his other shots and finished with 23 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes.

"He showed flashes of what he can do for our basketball team," Anderson said. "His energy, it's contagious for our basketball team."

Foul trouble sent Carroll to the bench for most of the second half and cost him what would have been an enormous line in the box score, but thanks to Lyons, it didn't cost Mizzou.

"He told me to take over," Lyons said. "I listened to him and it worked out."

Carroll left the game after picking up his third foul less than three minutes into the half, with MU clinging to a five-point lead. Lyons immediately went to work, making three baskets in the next three minutes. When Carroll picked up his fourth foul with seven minutes 22 second left, Lyons (18 points, five rebounds) subbed in for him and took over in the paint once again.

It was an encouraging sight for Anderson, who wasn't pleased with Lyons' play in the first half.

"It was good to see Leo show up in the second half. Some guys play as good as their jumpshots. He's playing for the wrong coach if he thinks that's going to take place. The second half I think he played with a little more passion, a little more energy," Anderson said.

"You can see he's very, very talented."

Mizzou could stand to shoot the ball better from outside Tuesday night against Fordham, and again, rebounding appears likely to be a season-long issue; CMU out-rebounded Mizzou, 35-33, and used offensive rebounds to stay close in the first half.

"They would not go away. We had opportunities to really kind of distance ourselves, but we did some things that hopefully we'll correct as time goes on. But I cannot knock the effort. The effort was there," Anderson said.

"We're a work in progress."

Thankfully, Carroll and Lyons appear poised to hasten that progression.

"Yeah, two big men," Carroll said. "Once we get on the same page, it's going to be a dangerous sight."

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