With their backs against the wall in the final game of their European tour Friday in Cergy, France, Missouri’s basketball team showed the kind of resiliency any coach would like to see.
The Tigers trailed Cergy by two points early in the fourth quarter but outscored the second-division pro team 30-8 the rest of the way and won 81-61.
Missouri led by as many as 12 in the second quarter, but saw its lead dwindle to 33-32 at halftime. The game remained close until the early in the fourth when Cergy took a 53-51 lead.
“We relied too much on our perimeter jumper and went away from our strength, which is attacking the rim,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said in a news release. “I had a feeling our perimeter game might struggle tonight because the rims were off center and probably lower than 10 feet at one end, but once our guys started attacking the glass and we got some fouls called, they had to take their hands off us and it was a completely different game.”
Indeed. Missouri responded to the challenge by rattling off 21 straight points over the next 5 minutes, 43 seconds, and Haith praised freshman big man Ryan Rosburg — who scored the first six points of the run and finished with six rebounds.
“Ryan is getting better and better every game,” Haith said in the release. “He was absolutely huge early in the fourth. Don’t forget that he is playing against guys that are in their late 20s and early 30s and he changed the complexion of the game.”
Senior guard Keion Bell scored 10 of his game-high 15 points during the run.
“Keion can do that and he’s played very well over the last two games,” Haith said in the release. “He had seven boards and seven assists too, so not only was he scoring, but he was attacking the glass and used his dribble to set up his teammates.”
Missouri, which outrebounded Cergy 50-29, also received notable performances from several players, five of whom scored in double figures. Senior guard Michael Dixon had 14 points, while junior guard Earnest Ross (13 points, 10 rebounds), senior center Alex Oriakhi (13 points, 12 rebounds) and sophomore guard Jabari Brown (10 points) each chipped in for the Tigers, who concluded their five-game tour 4-1 and will return home Saturday.