Kansas City Star
• Key play: A strong start allowed Bucknell to take a 24-18 lead, but MU senior forward Laurence Bowers scored six straight points and got the Tigers back into it right before halftime.
• Key stat: Bucknell, which took a 28-24 lead into the break, held MU star point guard Phil Pressey to seven points and zero assists during the first half.
• Key play: Freshman Stefan Jankovic started the second half and responded with a long three-pointer and a driving, one-handed slam in traffic that gave Missouri a 29-28 lead and energized the arena.
• Key stat: After going missing all eight of their three-point shots in the first half, the Tigers made all five of them in the second half.
Criswell out again
Junior forward Tony Criswell missed his second straight game because of a broken middle finger on his non-shooting hand. Missouri coach Frank Haith said Criswell, who has emerged as MU’s third-best big man, will be re-evaluated Sunday and a decision will be made on whether he will play in MU’s Southeastern Conference opener against Alabama on Tuesday.
“Obviously, we miss Tony,” Haith said. “Tony gives us energy — draws charges, (chases down) loose balls … we’re missing some of that.”
• After watching Bucknell forward Mike Muscala torture his team for 16 points with a variety of jumpers and post shots in the first half, Haith started throwing different defenders at him. Muscala finished with 25 points, only nine in the second half.
“We really flipped guys on him so he didn’t get in rhythm,” Haith said. “We did a better job pushing him off the block.”
Late in the game, Haith had the more mobile Laurence Bowers guard him instead of trusted rim protector Alex Oriakhi.
“Muscala is a mobile guy. He can face you up and drive on you, and we didn’t want to give him a chance to step off the block and attack,” Haith said.
• Saturday’s win was Missouri’s 73rd straight at home in the nonconference. The Tigers have gone undefeated at home in nonconference play for seven consecutive seasons.
| Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org