COLUMBIA — Senior Earnest Ross and junior Jabari Brown combined for 39 points Tuesday in the Missouri men’s basketball team’s Black & Gold scrimmage at Mizzou Arena.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
But neither was eager to rub the Gold team’s 63-61 victory in junior point guard Jordan Clarkson’s face.
“They beat us pretty bad in a closed scrimmage,” Brown said before his coach interrupted.
“Beat them by 20,” Tigers coach Frank Haith said. “Not pretty bad, they beat them by 20.”
Brown, who finished with 15 points and four assists, continued, “Yeah, we had to come out and do something about that.”
Ross, who scored a game-best 24 points with eight rebounds in 25 minutes briefly thrust both arms in the air after sophomore Stefan Jankovic’s potential game-winning three-pointer from the left corner came up short as time expired.
Of course, winning and losing wasn’t really the point.
For the 2,099 fans in attendance, a number tamped down by the Cardinals playing the Dodgers in game four of the National League Championship Series, Clarkson’s unofficial debut was the central storyline.
Before he’s even played a minute, Clarkson, a 6-foot-5 Tulsa transfer, already has the weight of the program on his shoulders.
He averaged 16.3 points for the Golden Hurricane, but has been asked to take over at point guard for the Tigers while keeping that offensive production high.
It’s a lot of pressure, but Clarkson responded with a team-high 19 points for the Black team. He only shot six of 15 and also had four turnovers, but Haith didn’t expect perfection.
“He hadn’t played in front of people in over a year, so I didn’t anticipate him being out of sight,” Haith said. “But Jordan’s a very good player.”
Clarkson showed what he’s capable of in fits and starts, but also was upstaged by several teammates, which could be a great sign for the Tigers moving forward.
Ross poured in 24 points with eight rebounds, while freshman Jonathan Williams III and sophomore Ryan Rosburg, also stood out — and drew raves from Haith.
Williams scored eight with 11 rebounds.
“(Williams) was outstanding,” Haith said. “He’s been coming to. I could see J-3 starting — not that I put a premium on anyone starting — but he does all the little things and plays so hard. He’s always in the gym, but, as you can see, he’s got a knack for rebounding the ball and great instincts and he can score a little bit.”
Rosburg pumped in 16 points on seven-for-nine shooting with eight boards in only 19 minutes.
“He has worked his tail off and given himself a chance to be a really good player because of how hard he’s worked in the offseason,” Haith said.
Finally, freshman point guard Wes Clark struggled from the field, shooting only one of eight, but he chipped in a game-high eight assists.
“Eight assists, two turnovers — that’s productivity,” Haith said.