University of Missouri

Senior Russell Woods steps up during Missouri’s disappointing hoops season

Missouri’s Russell Woods (right) scored a career-high 18 points Saturday against South Carolina.
Missouri’s Russell Woods (right) scored a career-high 18 points Saturday against South Carolina. The Associated Press

Senior forward Russell Woods’ performance this season has been a pleasant surprise amid Missouri basketball’s struggles.

Woods, a 6-foot-8 junior-college transfer from John A. Logan College in Illinois, averaged 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds as a junior in his first season with the Tigers.

He’s increased his on-court production to 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, emerging as a leader for third-year coach Kim Anderson’s squad.

“I feel like I’ve made a big jump from my junior season,” Woods said.

Anderson said Woods has improved his defense dramatically during the season and overall has “maybe made more progress than anybody.”

Anderson also lauded Woods’ leadership.

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“When you have success, and thankfully he’s had some success because he’s worked really hard, I think he feels better about leading the team and has become more vocal,” Anderson said.

Despite the personal improvement, Woods said he’s disappointed that his improved play hasn’t led to an improved record for Mizzou.

“I think I could be doing way better than what I’ve been doing and helping the team get more W’s under our belt, so I wouldn’t say I’m happy or satisfied,” Woods said.

Woods’ coaches and teammates, on the other hand, are thrilled with Woods’ senior-season breakthrough.

“I’m proud of him, because I think that he has continued to work,” Anderson said. “His body is beat up. You guys watch him run. He’s in that training room every day 30 to 40 minutes before practice just to get himself going.”

Woods, who has bad knees and started dealing with back spasms in midseason, confirmed Anderson’s claim. “It’s probably more like 40 minutes to an hour,” Woods said. “I think I might be the oldest 22-year-old ever.”

During the summer, Woods had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right knee, hoping to relieve pain in the joint.

“They’re holding up, man,” Woods said of his ailing knees.

Woods exploded for a career-high 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting Saturday against then-No. 23 South Carolina. It was his seventh double-digit game of his MU career after never scoring more than nine points in a game last season.

“Obviously, seniors want to go out with a bang and that’s what he’s trying to do right now,” sophomore guard Terrence Phillips said. “We need him to keep bringing that same energy and same fight.”

Woods’ effort has rubbed off on the rest of the Tigers, who haven’t stopped fighting despite a 12-game losing streak and 0-8 start in SEC play.

“It’s his last go-round, so you can tell when he plays that’s kind of the approach he’s taking and playing every game like it’s his last,” sophomore forward Kevin Puryear said. “ … He really wants to leave his mark here, and I really appreciate that from him.”

Woods, a Chicago native and graduate of Simeon Career Academy, is entering the final months of his college — and perhaps organized basketball — career.

“Now that you bring it up, it has (hit me),” Woods said. “I haven’t been thinking about it that much, but I know that it’s coming to an end soon. I’ve been more concerned about getting W’s and getting better as a team.”

Woods, a hospitality management major, is on track to graduate — something he’s as proud of as his improved scoring and rebounding averages.

“I’m very proud of that,” he said. “At times, I didn’t think it was going to happen, but I settled down, got into my books, tightened down and tried to stay dedicated.”

Longest losing streaks in MU history

No. of games Dates (Head coach) Avg. margin

13 — Jan. 10-Feb. 21, 2015 (Kim Anderson) -14 ppg

12 — Dec. 15, 1966-Jan. 31, 1967 (Bob Vanatta) -13.0 ppg

12 — Dec. 30, 1965-Feb. 21, 1966 (Bob Vanatta) -19.9 ppg

12 — Dec. 10, 2016-current (Kim Anderson) -9.5 ppg

11 — Dec. 20, 1958-Feb. 7, 1959 (Wilbur Stalcup) -7.5 ppg

9 — Jan. 12-Feb. 10, 2016 (Kim Anderson) -14.8 ppg

8 — Feb. 18-March 3, 1914 (O.F. Field) -8.0 ppg

8 — Dec. 12, 1960-Jan. 9, 1961 (Wilbur Stalcup) -11.8 ppg

8 — Feb. 7-March 6, 1967 (Bob Vanatta) -12.4 ppg

8 — Jan. 19-Feb. 18, 1974 (Norm Stewart) -7.9 ppg

Longest conference losing streak in MU history

No. of games Dates (Head coach)

13 — Jan. 10, 2015-Feb. 21, 2015 (Kim Anderson)

13 — Feb. 20, 2016-current (Kim Anderson)

11 — Feb. 17, 1958-Feb. 7, 1959 (Wilbur Stalcup)

11 — Jan. 3, 1966-Feb. 21, 1966 (Bob Vanatta)

9 — Feb. 7, 1967-Jan. 6, 1968 (Bob Vanatta 8/Norm Stewart 1)

9 — Jan. 12, 2016-Feb. 10, 2016 (Kim Anderson)

8 — Feb. 18, 1914-March 3, 1914 (O.F. Field)

8 — Jan. 19, 1974-Feb. 18, 1974 (Norm Stewart)

Longest road losing streaks in MU history

No. of games Dates (Head coach)

30 — Feb. 4, 2014 to current (Frank Haith 5/Kim Anderson 24)

16 — Feb. 2, 1977 to Dec. 23, 1978 (Norm Stewart)

14 — Feb. 18, 1996 to Dec. 6, 1997 (Norm Stewart)

12 — Dec. 5, 1966 to March 6, 1967 (Bob Vanatta)

10 — Jan. 10, 1942 to Feb. 20, 1943 (George Edwards)

10 — Jan. 21, 2006 to Jan. 15, 2007 (Quin Snyder 4/Melvin Watkins 3/Mike Anderson 3)

Longest conference road losing streaks in MU history

No. of games Dates (Head coach)

27 — Feb. 4, 2014 to current (Frank Haith 5/Kim Anderson 21)

18 — Feb. 21, 1996 to Feb. 21, 1998 (Norm Stewart)

13 — March 1, 1940 to Feb. 20, 1943 (George Edwards)

13 — Feb. 23, 1959 to Feb. 1, 1961 (Wilbur Stalcup)

10 — March 5, 1973 to Jan, 22, 1975 (Norm Stewart)

10 — Feb. 2, 1977 to Feb. 18, 1978 (Norm Stewart)

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