Missouri freshman forward Kevin Puryear isn’t sick, but he planned to spend Wednesday in bed anyway.
Tigers coach Kim Anderson called off practice as a reward after his squad limited Arkansas-Pine Bluff to only 25 points Tuesday in a 53-point win at Mizzou Arena.
Ahead 39-12 at halftime, Anderson made a deal with his players — keep the Golden Lions under 30 points for the game and enjoy a full day’s respite.
Puryear, who scored 13 points with eight rebounds in the win, welcomed the down time and planned to catch up on a guilty pleasure.
“In my bed, watching ‘Scandal’ probably,” he said when asked how he’d spent the practice-free day. “To be honest with you, that’s my favorite show. I could sit around and probably watch six episodes in a row.”
Russell Woods, a junior, wasn’t going to join Puryear on his comfy, memory-foam mattress for a “Scandal” marathon.
“I’ll just watch TV,” said Woods, a junior-college transfer from John A. Logan College, who has grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in back-to-back games. “I don’t watch ‘Scandal,’ though. But Kerry Washington is good-looking, so I might.”
Anderson shook up Missouri’s starting lineup against Arkansas-Pine Bluff by giving Woods his first career start and placing freshman K.J. Walton back into the starting five at guard in place of sophomore Namon Wright.
Woods’ production has surged in recent weeks, and Anderson has consistently lauded the energy Woods brings to the floor.
“I’m just playing with passion and trying to play hard,” Woods said. “That’s all I can say. Everybody keeps telling me to just keep grinding. That I’ll be all right if I keep grinding and keep fighting, that coach is going to notice it. And coach noticed it. I was proud coach noticed I’ve been working hard.”
Wright had been mired in a prolonged shooting slump, but Anderson didn’t think the shuffling was responsible for the sterling performance.
The Tigers hadn’t allowed 25 or fewer in a game since Jan. 3, 1947 (a 36-25 win against Iowa State) and hadn’t won by 53 or more since Mike Anderson’s final season on the bench (a 116-63 win against Central Arkansas on Dec. 18, 2010).
“We shared the ball better,” Kim Anderson said of Tuesday’s win. “We’ve practiced a little bit better. There’s a long way to go, but I was happy for these guys. They haven’t had this feeling. I haven’t had this feeling since Warrensburg. I haven’t had this type of game.”
The win moved Missouri, 6-6, back to .500 with one more game — 2 p.m. on Saturday against Savannah State at Mizzou Arena — remaining before conference play begins Wednesday at Georgia.
“This team needed something good to happen,” Anderson said. “Now, they’ve got to repeat it. Obviously, the competition is going to continue to get better as we get into the league, but maybe this is the start of something positive.”
Certainly, it can’t hurt.
“It was definitely a big confidence booster for us,” Puryear said. “It was good to see (freshman walk-on Adam) Wolf get in there and get some buckets. I think we played pretty good defense, held them under 30 points, so that was pretty impressive. We’ve just got to keep building on this and keep getting better.”