• Key play: A steal and a dunk by guard Keion Bell ignited a stretch where Bell scored three straight baskets and energized his team as Missouri jumped out to a 19-11 lead that grew to as many as 31 in the first half.
• Key stat: Missouri was well on its way toward dominating the rebounding battle at halftime, owning a 24-7 edge on the boards.
• Key play: Vanderbilt opened the second half with a 16-4 run, cutting its deficit to 17. But a three-pointer by Negus Webster-Chan helped the Tigers escape their slumber, as they never let the Commodores get close to cutting their deficit to single digits.
• Key stat: Missouri went 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) from three-point range.
Missouri coach Frank Haith was optimistic about the improving health of senior forward Laurence Bowers, who missed his fifth straight games Saturday with a sprained right MCL.
I think if we pushed it, he probably could have got out there a little bit today, Haith said. But I really want him to be really comfortable, as I did with Keion. Keion probably could have played the other night. Weve just got to weather the storm, so to speak and get those guys back feeling good.
But when asked if Bowers, who dressed for the game but did not play, will play against Louisiana State on Wednesday, Haith was noncommittal.
• Missouris coaches wore white sneakers in recognition of the nationwide Coaches vs. Cancer program, but apparently the choice of shoes white Nike Air Force Ones with a gold swoosh, picked out by Haith werent popular with everyone.
Those Air Forces, theyre not the best looking, joked senior center Alex Oriakhi. I dont like them.
Haith, however, defended his choice of sneakers.
Im an Air Force One guy, Haith said with a grin. Alex is hating on my shoes, but we wore them last year, and I kind of like the gold emblem. I thought it was snazzy. I think I might wear them every game.
| Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org