University of Missouri

MU finishes as tournament co-champions

First half

• Key play:

On Missouri’s opening possession, senior Earnest Ross caught a pass on the left wing, shot faked and then drove hard to the basket for a finger-roll layup. It was a sign of things to come as Ross scored a Missouri career-high 28 points, including a 12-for-13 performance at the free-throw line.

• Key stat:

Rather quietly, Missouri is becoming a solid defensive team. The Tigers have only allowed one opponent (Hawaii) to score more than 67 points and Nevada seemed unlikely to get there after shooting only eight for 28 from the field (28.6 percent) in the first half.

Second half

• Key play:

Coming out of a timeout with 6:13 remaining, Missouri only led 62-57. Nevada switched to a zone press, which the Tigers exploited. Two Wolfpack players ran at junior Jordan Clarkson as he crossed midcourt. Senior Earnest Ross floated to opposite block, where Clarkson hit him with a 40-foot pass for an easy layup — the first points in a game-clinching 15-6 run.

• Key stat:

Missouri shot 52 percent (13 of 25) in the first half, but started the second half in abysmal fashion. The Tigers made only three of 16 from the field in the opening 12-plus minutes after halftime as Nevada trimmed an 18-point halftime deficit to five points.

Tourney co-champions

Missouri was informed Friday that Las Vegas Invitational organizers had scrubbed plans for a tiebreaker based on which team allowed the fewest points.

The Tigers and UCLA play Dec. 7 at Mizzou Arena, so tournament organizers agreed to adjust the format to a modified round robin, preventing two meetings in eight days.

Missouri had allowed 194 points through three games and UCLA had given up 219 before organizers announced that if both teams finish 4-0 they will be declared co-champions.

“It wasn’t right to have somebody 4-0 and not be a champion,” Las Vegas Invitational tournament director Bob Patton said. “It’s more out of respect for the caliber of teams this early in the year.”

The Bruins beat Northwestern 95-79 after the Tigers’ win against Nevada.

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