Missouri had played better in its last two games entering Saturday’s nonconference finale against Lipscomb at Mizzou Arena, but it had still been three weeks since the Tigers’ last victory.
After getting handled by Xavier, Missouri lost the Braggin’ Rights Game against Illinois on a buzzer-beater and took Oklahoma State to overtime Tuesday in a two-point loss at the Sprint Center.
The Tigers desperately needed to scratch the win column again and, despite a lackluster opening 30 minutes, did just that with a 72-60 victory against the Bison in front of an announced crowd of 7,415.
“We’ve played some good teams really well and haven’t been able to get over the hump,” said Tigers coach Kim Anderson, whose team won for the first time since beating Elon on Dec. 11.
Senior Keanau Post proved to be perhaps the unlikeliest of heroes for Missouri, 6-7.
Post, who had played in the last two games, came off the bench and scored a season-high seven points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds.
“I’ve been telling him to stay focused,” said freshman guard Tramaine Isabell, who scored a career-high 14 points. “‘At some point, we’re going to need you. I mean, you’re the biggest dude on the team. You’re going to make an impact somehow. There’s no way that you can’t.’ To see him, after two games not playing, almost have a double-double, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Sophomore Johnathan Williams III also kept up his recent torrid pace, finishing with teams high of 16 points and 10 rebounds. He has scored at least 15 in seven consecutive games.
Missouri trailed by double digits in both halves, but the Tigers closed the game on a 13-2 run and didn’t allow a field goal over the final 9 minutes and 33 seconds.
Lipscomb, 5-9, went six of 27 from the field in the second half — missing 18 of their last 19 shots.
“They started switching screens during that time, which is abnormal for them,” Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said of the Tigers. “It’s not abnormal for us to face it, but it’s abnormal for them and it just took us out of rhythm a little bit.”
Still, it was a slog for Missouri, which opens SEC play Thursday at home against LSU.
The Tigers’ lead stood at 59-58 when Lipscomb freshman center George Brammeier got to the rim on a fastbreak for a go-ahead layup with 5 minutes remaining.
Instead, sophomore point guard Wes Clark, who had missed a layup at the offensive end seconds earlier, soared in from behind for a chase-down block.
Isabell followed up with a pair of free throws, extending MU’s lead to three points. It never dipped lower again.
“Wes is super athletic,” Isabell said. “We see it all the time. He does stuff I wish I could do … so it didn’t really surprise me that much. But that play gave us an extra boost, because that was an easy layup. That was a home-run layup, and he just made an outstanding play.”
Clark finished with eight points, six assists and four steals.
After another so-so start, senior Keith Shamburger, who finished with 15 points, connected on one of his three three-pointers to push the Tigers in front 19-17.
The Bison responded with a 13-0 run, but Post’s presence helped staunch the bleeding.
Post, who hadn’t scored since Nov. 25 at the Maui Invitational, closed the half with a three-point play that pulled MU within 35-33.
Still, Lipscomb built a 48-38 lead early in the second half. But Missouri countered with a 16-1 run that featured five points from Isbaell and was punctuated by Post’s uncontested two-hand jam.
Bison freshman Nathan Moran led all scorers with 17 points.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.