Kim English had 18 points while going 3 for 5 from 3-point range, helping Missouri to another non-conference home win in an 88-70 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday night, but I give credit to UAPB for not quitting.
It looked like it was going to be one of those snooze fests again at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers jumped out to a 33-7 lead forcing UAPB into 19 early turnovers. When they weren’t getting the ball stolen or throwing it out of bounds they were missing shots. Then, they finished strong end the half on a 22-7 run to make it a 40-29 lead at the half. UAPB trimmed 15 points off in the final 5:16 of that half.
Head Coach Mike Anderson was still pretty happy given the Tigers have been off for a week. “For our guys to come out and get off to a good start in attacking Arkansas Pine-Bluff was good. True to form, the other team is going to make a run back at you and they did that at the end of the first half. I think we’d held them to seven and then all of a sudden they go into a big run. We played a lot of players, so you expect some rustiness to be there. Hopefully, we got that out of our system and we can get ready for the next game. Hats off to Pine-Bluff, because they’ve played a good schedule. Their kids were not afraid.”
The Tigers wore down UAPB in the second half building the lead to as much as 28 twice with less than eight minutes to play. Justin Safford added nine points and nine rebounds and Michael Dixon had a season-best 13 points for the Tigers (7-3), who won their 25th in a row at home. On the rebounding, Anderson said, “We’re going to be a team that rebounds by committee. If we can do that, and just stay in the ballpark on rebounds and turn a team over like we’re capable of doing and cashing in on some of those turnovers then I think that’s going to put us in a position to win quite a few games.”
Missouri is 6-0 at home this season at home and now gets ready for Illinois in St. Louis on December 23rd. The Illini lost to Georgia late in the game on Saturday night. As far as Illinois, Anderson thinks this will be a good test. “We’ll find out a little bit more about our basketball team. I’m biased, because it’s in St. Louis and to me that’s home, but it’s a neutral setting and against an Illinois team that’s probably searching for a win just like we’re searching for a win. We want to find out the identity of our basketball team, and it’s going to be a good game. It’s the Bragging Rights game, but we haven’t had much to brag about they have a lot to do with that. It’s going to be a big challenge, but I think it’s something our guys are looking forward to.”