Missouri guard Wes Clark stole the ball and jetted down the right side of the court. No one on the Hearnes Center floor was near him.
The sophomore jammed one home. The dunk made the score 36-20 in favor of Missouri. More than 16 minutes remained in the second half.
The Tigers outscored William Jewell College 36-11 the rest of the way, beating the Cardinals 72-31 on Wednesday at the Hearnes Center.
The exhibition matchup was the first time Missouri coach Kim Anderson led his squad against an opponent. The Tigers survived a cold-shooting first half, though they were never really threatened by William Jewell. Clark — who led Missouri with 14 points — and the Tigers rolled in the second half, shook off the jitters and learned to play with some different personnel groups.
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Missouri shot just 30 percent from the floor in the first half. William Jewell was worse. The Cardinals were six for 30 from the floor, including two for 13 from behind the arc. They managed just 17 first-half points, despite ending the period with an 8-0 run.
Anderson hinted that he wasn’t happy with the way his team closed out the half.
“It was a 30-9 game, and then we gave up eight points, I think, in a row before half,” Anderson said. “And we talked about that at halftime. A lot.”
The second half saw Missouri start to click offensively and William Jewell simply fall apart.
At certain points, Clark was joined by two other point guards on the floor. He liked the effect that lineup created.
“We practice it a lot, playing with two other point guards,” Clark said. “It makes it easier for me because the team has to spread out and play more, like, against the shooters, so it makes it easier for me to drive.”
The Cardinals shot just more than 13 percent from the floor in the second half. Missouri shot almost 54 percent.
“We just didn’t fit together real well (in the first half),” Anderson said. “I thought in the second half we relaxed. We were just real nervous. I think both teams were nervous.”
William Jewell coach Larry Holley agreed. “For our guys to play in this big arena, you know we don’t do that very often,” he said, adding that “jitters” were definitely a factor.
But so was Missouri’s defense and length. Holley said the Tigers’ size and tenacious defense limited his offense’s ability to execute.
“I think we had, for the most part, good energy,” Holley said. “We obviously didn’t shoot the ball well. And give Missouri credit: Coach Anderson had them working hard on defense obviously this fall. And their length bothered us.”
Anderson praised his squad for its high energy level.
“I was real proud of our defensive effort, and I was probably more proud for how hard we played for 40 minutes,” Anderson said.
“I liked the aggressiveness of the whole team. I told them going into the game that if there’s a ball on the floor and you don’t dive for it, then just keep coming right on over and sit down by me.”
Missouri junior forward Ryan Rosburg said it was just nice to play someone new.
“It was awesome to get back out there,” Rosburg said. “I’m sick of playing each other all day. We have a lot of new guys, so it was a good opportunity to get out there and get some of the jitters out of the way, and just try to get used to playing with each other in a real game setting.”