Head coach Mike Anderson told me he was looking for his Missouri basketball team to play with more consistency and get up for every game. The Tigers had a challenge from a scrappy Savannah State squad, but came out strong in the second half to win 74-45 at Mizzou Arena.

The Tigers finish the non-conference schedule 12-3 having won seven in a row. It was just 28-25 at the half despite the fact Savannah State shot just 28% in the first half. However, they had 10 more attempts than the Tigers and hit four three pointers. Meanwhile the Tigers were 0-4 on three attempts in the first half.

Head coach Mike Anderson had a little talk with his senior leaders at the break. “I think JT Tiller and Zaire Taylor, after getting chastised by me a little bit, came out with great, great energy. JT is the heart and soul of our team, and the Tasmanian Devil really came out in him tonight. It’s kind of like lighting a match—it’s contagious and catches on to everybody.”

Missouri went on a 14-0 at one point in the second half over a span of six minutes to pull away. Marcus Denmon, Justin Safford and Kim English combined for 28 second-half points to push the Tigers to the victory. English finished with 13 points, Denmon and Safford 12 apiece.

Now Anderson and the Tigers get their first taste of Big 12 play on Saturday when they host Kansas State at 1pm. “They got everybody back from last year for the most part, and they’ve got scoring, they’ve got rebounding, and they probably don’t get enough credit for their defense. Their defense gets them points and creates some easy opportunities for them. They’re athletic and have good size. They’re playing well.”