The Missouri Tigers hosted the Alcorn State Braves on Tuesday night and came away with a relatively easy 91-54 win. Neither team was on point to start the game and the first half was filled with poor shooting. Each team made just nine shots in the half and combined to go 18-70 (25.7%). At the break the Tigers held a 30-23 lead, but came out on fire with a stronger sense of purpose in the second half and bulldozed the Braves.
Once Missouri got rolling they really kicked it up and showed just how explosive they can be as a team. They scored 61 points in the second half on 17-29 (58.6%) shooting. Four of their five starters finished in double figures, led by Phil Pressey who was just 2-8 from three but still finished with 21 points. Junior guard Earnest Ross added 17 points and 10 rebounds while forward Alex Oriakhi also had a double-double with his 12 point, 10 rebound effort. Alex was just 1-5 from the floor but made up for it by getting to the charity stripe where he was 10-13. Laurence Bowers was the other Tiger to top 10 points with 14 and freshman Negus Webster-Chan led the team in rebounding with 11. As a team the Tigers had 11 assist, 11 steals, and 10 blocks on the night and only turned the ball over 9 times.
Alcorn’s starting backcourt, LeAntwan Luckett (14) and Anthony Nieves (13), accounted for half of the Braves scoring output but it took them 28 shots to get there. Guard Anthony Evans added 11 points on the night, and made 3 of Alcorn State’s 4 three-pointers, but he had his shooting struggles as well (3-10). Given that they were overmatched, they took decent care of the ball (15 TO) but you’re not going to win many games – regardless of opponent – when you shoot 30.6% (19-62) as a team.
In both games so far this season Coach Haith’s crew has played sluggishly in the first half and that needs to be addressed before they get into the meat of their schedule. Conference play is still off in the distance but they have Stanford coming up in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament a week from today. Other teams in that tournament include Northern Iowa, #2 Louisville, #17 Memphis, VCU, #9 Duke and Minnesota. While VCU and Minnesota are not in the Top-25 they are just on the outside in the AP poll at #26 and #28 respectively. Northern Iowa and Stanford have also been receiving some Top-25 votes so no matter who the Tigers face in the tournament, they’re going to be tested in each of the three games they will play on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th.
Alcorn State (1-1) travels to Maples Pavilion where they will take on last season’s NIT Champion Stanford Cardinal (2-0).
The Tigers will host the Nicholls State Colonels (0-1) on Friday night. The game will be aired on Metro Sports (1310 for those of you with Time Warner HD) in the KC market with a 7 pm Tip-Off. After that they will travel to the Bahamas for the above mentioned Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Editor’s Note: Pardon my tardiness on this report, I was a little occupied with our domain and name change yesterday and I’m still doing a little house cleaning around these parts as I settle in.