Something good finally happened for Missouri.
First-year coach Kim Anderson’s refrain for more than a month has been that the Tigers needed a signature victory, really any victory against a major-conference opponent, something to inspire confidence.
Missouri’s 74-67 overtime victory Thursday in the SEC opener against LSU at Mizzou Arena qualifies.
“Obviously, it’s a great win,” Anderson said. “We’ve been so close a couple of times that it’s great to see these guys be able to realize the fruits of their labor.”
Missouri, 7-7 and 1-0 in the SEC, lost to Illinois on a buzzer beater and fell against Oklahoma State in overtime to close out 2014, but the Tigers — who had been winless in six games against major-conference teams — broke through against LSU.
Missouri, which played without second-leading scorer Montaque Gill-Caesar, clawed back from a double-digit hole in the first half and didn’t wilt after LSU forced extra time on junior Keith Hornsby’s three-pointer with 10.1 seconds remaining.
“We’ve been there before the last couple games,” said senior Keanau Post, who delivered a season-high 12 points with seven rebounds and three blocks off the bench. “Our mindset was, ‘We’re going to get it this time.’ We were confident we could get the win and we did.”
Powered by sophomore Johnathan Williams III and senior Keith Shamburger, who combined for all nine Missouri points in overtime, MU sent a feisty crowd of 7,509 home happy.
LSU, 11-3 and 0-1, scored the first overtime points on free throws by sophomore Tim Quarterman with 2:44 remaining, but Missouri didn’t concede a point the rest of the way.
Williams tied the game with a layup then hit what proved to be the game-winning free throw after fouling out LSU sophomore forward Jarell Martin, who entered the game as the SEC’s leading scorer.
LSU sophomore Jordan Mickey, the other half of coach Johnny Jones’ dynamic frontcourt duo, had a critical turnover with 1:03 remaining in overtime and missed two free throws 20 seconds later.
Shamburger went four of five at the line in the final 55.2, including a pair that iced the win with 15.1 seconds remaining.
“It’s a good start, but it’s only one game,” said sophomore guard Wes Clark, who scored 13 points and had five rebounds. “There’s some other big games coming, so we’re just looking at this as a stepping stone to some other big wins.”
Missouri trailed 54-46 with 8 minutes remaining, and more heartbreak seemed inevitable before a 14-2 run helped secure a breakthrough instead.
Shamburger, who finished with 10 points, started the outburst with a three and freshman Tramaine Isabell, who had six assists with only one turnover in a career-high 30 minutes, also connected from long range.
Clark caught fire with eight points in a 65-second span as Missouri surged into the lead.
“I got a little confidence behind my jump shot,” Clark said.
Clark almost avoided the spectacle of overtime altogether when he raced up the floor after Hornsby’s three-pointer, but his pull-up jumper from 12 feet drew back iron.
“Man, it looked as good as the rest of them,” Clark said.
Martin and Mickey, who entered averaging 34.5 points and 19.2 rebounds collectively, were saddled with foul trouble and struggled from the field, shooting seven of 23 combined. The LSU tandem finished with 18 points and 24 rebounds, including 17 rebounds from Mickey.
Meanwhile, MU’s Williams finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, his eighth straight game with at least 15 points and eight boards.
LSU won the rebounding battle 50-39, but was outscored 36-24 in the paint.
Missouri freshman Namon Wright, who started for Gill-Caesar, added nine points and five rebounds in a career-high 33 minutes.
Isabell, Shamburger and Clark combined for 13 assists and only three turnovers.
“No question, I think this was probably the most complete game from start to finish,” Anderson said. “Although we didn’t start off well, I think we continued to get better as the game went on.”
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.