The Mizzou men’s basketball team (5-6) hosts two final non-conference games at Mizzou Arena before beginning SEC play. Tonight the Tigers host Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-11) at 8 p.m. The undefeated Mizzou women (12-0) start off the evening hosting Charlotte (7-4) at 5:30.
Freshman forward Kevin Puryear’s 12.1 points per game leads the Tigers after 11 games. He’s shooting 51.6 percent from the field, but there were some holes in his game that were visible from my courtside seat at Scottrade Center last week. Puryear was beat on the drive and slow to react as Illinois used their quickness multiple times.
During one sequence, he followed up a defensive lapse in the first half, with a bad turnover leading to a fast break bucket for the Illini. Next trip down the floor, he rushed a shot that clanked off the rim. The Tigers showed their youth as Illinois opened up a 20-point lead.
The Tigers battled back in the second half, led by junior guard Wes Clark scored a career-high 21 points. Clark connected on 8-of-16 field goal attempts and dished out four assists.
Kim Anderson said he learned more about his team and while he wouldn’t go into much detail in the postgame presser in St. Louis, he promised we would notice. That could mean more playing time for junior forward Russell Woods who pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds. Woods is also shooting 67% from the floor.
The Mizzou women have started the season 12-0 for the first time in program history. With the win at Colorado on Dec. 12, the Tigers moved past the 1982-83 team that started 9-0 for the best in school history.
The Tigers moved up two spots to No. 23 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, the highest ranking in the poll for the program since Dec. 30, 1984, nearly 31 years ago to the date. The Tigers entered the AP poll at No. 25 last week, marking the first AP national ranking for the program since Jan. 9, 2006.
Mizzou defeated Texas State 82-56 the last time out prior to the holiday break on Dec. 21. Lindsey Cunningham led Mizzou with 14 assists, falling one shy of the school record set by Dee-Dee Polk in 1984. Her younger sister, Sophie Cunningham leads the Tigers with 16.6 points per game and is second on the team with 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. established by Renee Kelly on Jan. 25, 1986 vs. Oklahoma at the Hearnes Center.