For the second game in a row, the 14th ranked Mizzou men’s basketball team started slow, but finished strong as the Tigers erupted for 61 points in the second half to put away Alcorn State 91-54 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers shot just 23% in the first half as nothing seemed to fall in the bucket early, missing lay-ups, wide open jumpers and put-backs. Head coach Frank Haith thought the early misses started to affect his team on the defensive end of the floor as well, but credited strong defensive play in the second half for sparking the team.
“Obviously we didn’t come out with the energy that we needed to have, again, in the first half and I thought we missed so many bunnies around the basket that you could see our guys just build up a little tension there. I thought we came out in the second half, got it going defensively, knocked some balls loose, executed a lot better and we made some nice adjustment in terms of how we played in the second half.”
Negus Webster-Chan and Phil Pressey each came up with three steals and Pressey led all Tigers with 21 points. Webster-Chan, who played the point some with Pressey coming off screens, contributed in other ways other than scoring. The freshman hit just 1-of-8 shots, but grabbed a career high 11 boards. Mizzou also got double-doubles from Earnest Ross (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Alex Oriakhi (12 points, 10 rebounds.) The Tigers finished with 56 rebounds and 10 blocked shots while holding Alcorn State to 30% shooting.
Missouri returns to action at home on Friday night vs. Nicholls State (7 p.m.) before heading to the Bahamas next Tuesday (Nov. 20) for a Nov. 22 contest against Stanford.