Dont be fooled by the comfortable victory margin.
The Kansas City Star
Missouri pressed the accelerator and ran past Southeast Missouri State 81-65 on Tuesday, but this was a struggle for more than 30 minutes.
The Tigers trailed by 10 at halftime and didnt take the lead in the second half until about 11 minutes remained.
To coach Frank Haith, defense worked against and finally for 12th-ranked Missouri, 7-1.
We let them get too comfortable in the first half, Haith said. We were closing on their shooters with our hands down. We did a much better job in the second half, pushing them off the line.
Thats the three-point line, where the Redhawks made a living in the first half, making eight of 15 to help construct a 45-35 edge.
Now, when exactly had the Tigers last lost a non-conference game at home?
That would be 2005. The Tigers entered the game having won 69 straight at home against non-league opponents. But this one looked precarious, especially when Mizzou couldnt make much of a dent in the deficit early in the second half.
But thats when the defense went to work, and so did Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell on the offense end.
Bowers banked hook from about 10 feet gave Missouri its first lead since the opening minutes at 57-56. He scored 15 of his career-high 26 points in the second half and the Tigers were at their best when the offense ran through him. Bowers found the range from all spots but was at his best on set plays near the basket.
They did a great job getting me the ball inside, and everything was falling for me, Bowers said. When they draw up plays for you, that means they trust you to make something happen.
The output came a game after Bowers matched his career best with 23 against Appalachian State.
Bell scored all 12 of his points in the second half and added 11 rebounds as Missouri won the rebound battle 48-28, which, along with 42 points in the paint, pleased Haith as much as anything on the statistics sheet.
Thats who we are, Haith said.
And not the bunch that couldnt seem to find energy in the first half.
Southeast Missouri of the Ohio Valley Conference had pushed Kansas in the Jayhawks opening game, staying within six points with about 12 minutes left. The Redhawks, 6-4, came to Columbia riding a three-game winning streak and werent intimidated by the surroundings.
Forward Tyler Stone felt at home. He started his career at Missouri before transferring and was making his second visit to Mizzou Arena as a visitor. He played like he wanted to be remembered, scoring 11 of his 13 in the first half.
Early on, Missouris transition defense was terrible and defenders lost Southeast Missouris shooters. It all changed soon after the break.
They turned up the defense, and I was disappointed we didnt respond, Redhawks coach Dickie Nutt said.
Stone thought he and his teammates had become less aggressive, but mostly they were caught in a Mizzou whirlwind on both ends of the floor.
Point guard Phil Pressey had an awful shooting night but managed 17 points and chipped in a pair of steals that turned into second half buckets.
But mostly Bowers did the damage. He stepped out and dropped in a pair of three pointers, made all four free throws and with his inside-outside game proved to be a difficult matchup.
Hes always been a good player, said Stone, the former teammate.
Now, hes become an aggressive one on the offensive end.