The Missouri Tigers shook off early sluggishness to beat Nebraska70-47 in front of another sellout of 15,061 at Mizzou Arena on Saturday.
The effects of having a week off for Nebraska and four days off for Missouri, plus two teams who pride themselves on defense helped lead to a rather low scoring first half. Missouri was up 18-10 with only five minutes to go in the first half. At that point, both teams were shooting under 28%.
The Huskers cut the lead to 18-16 with 2:45 to go in the first half when Brandon Richardson got fouled while attempting a three. Richardson missed the first two before cutting the lead to one. The first half ended in a flurry. Matt Lawrence came back on the next possession to drain a three and DeMarre Carroll dunked off a turnover and then Keith Ramsey blocked Chris Belham as he went up for a dunk. After two NU free throws, Matt Lawrence missed a chance to complete a three point play, but Mizzou held off a couple of last second shots to go into the break up 25-19.
The shooting was ugly. Mizzou was just 10 of 20, Nebraska just 6 of 23 after the first 20 minutes.
In second half, Missouri started to pull away. Mizzou was up 12 when Richardson got fouled while shooting. His three point play made it 40-31 with 14:29 to play. Lawrence answered just like he did in the first half with his second three pointer and the lead was back to 12. Then Marcus Denmon hit a three on Missouri’s next possession and the lead was up to 15, 46-31 forcing Doc Sadler to take a time out with 13:20 to play.
The difference in this game was that Missouri controlled the tempo. There was a lot of up and down running and that played into the hands of the Tigers who wear their opponents down in the second half.
Missouri looked like a different day than on January 10th. Head coach Mike Anderson talked about his team getting punched in that first game and not responding. I wouldn’t say Missouri landed the first big punch, but if this was a fight, they wore the Huskers down with jab after jab. The Tigers built their lead to 19 with under nine to play and then 24 with just over five minutes to play on a windmill jam by Lawrence Bowers.
Frustration set in for Sadler and the Huskers as he was jawing at the officials all afternoon. Sadler picked up a technical late. If the Tigers wore down NU with jabs, they took some knockout swings late in the second half to come away with their 22nd win of the year.
Four Tigers finished in double figures, led by Carroll and Lawrence with 13. J.T. Tiller scored 11 and Marcus Denmon had 10 off the bench. Brandon Richardson had 12, Ade Dagundaro 11, and Sek Henry finished with 11.
The Tigers shot 42% for the game while the Huskers struggled all day finishing up at 29%
The Tigers are now 22-4 on the year, 9-2 in Big 12 play, The Huskers drop to 15-8 overall, and 5-5 in conference play.