Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Two teams combined for 31 turnovers, a referee called a player out of bounds because he stepped past a volleyball court line, and the scoreboard frequently malfunctioned — and not because of a surplus of points.
Regardless, the Missouri basketball team and first-year coach Kim Anderson got a game under their belts with a 72-31 exhibition win against William Jewell in the Hearnes Center.
Though the game was an exhibition, the team were relieved to play in an actual game setting.
“I feel like this was a good game because we got the jitters out,” freshman guard Tramaine Isabell said. “First time playing in an arena really. I think it will be a lot better. … I haven’t really played a game since March.”
The Tigers held the Cardinals to 3-of-22 shooting in the second half.
“I was really proud of our defensive effort,” Anderson said, “and I was probably more proud of how hard we played for 40 minutes.”
Sophomore guard Wes Clark led the Tigers with 14 points in 27 minutes.
“Wes is our leader, whether it’s just talking, whether it’s leading by example,” said freshman guard Montaque Gill-Caesar, who had seven points. “And he’s always going to be the loudest guy, so that just brings up the energy of everybody else.”
The 6-foot-even Clark also threw down two dunks in transition.
“Wes has bounce,” Gill-Caesar said.
The Tigers made just 30 percent of their shots in the first half but improved with a 15-of-28 performance in the second.
“You know, I was pretty happy with the shot selection in the first half. I just think we were nervous,” Anderson said.
A shaky start wasn’t too surprising, coming from a team with just four returners and five freshmen who plan to factor into the rotation.
Jakeenan Gant, for one, began the game with two quick turnovers and a foul.
“We’ve all lived through that when we played,” Anderson said. “It’s our first game, we’re freshmen, and we’re just trying to do things so fast.”
Missouri led 30-9 with three minutes left in the first half, drawing a “Still in single digits” chant from The Antlers student cheering section. William Jewell answered with an 8-0 run to close out the first half, however.
“I think they had 17 points at half, and I think 13 of them were in the paint,” Anderson said. “We talked more about that, not letting guys break you down to get to the paint. I think the real key is keeping guys out of the lane.”
The Tigers played aggressively, tallying 12 steals and putting numerous bodies on the floor to dive for loose balls.
“I told them going into the game, I go, ‘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,” Anderson said.
Ten Tigers played 10 or more minutes in the game. The Tigers played frequently with multiple point guards, something Anderson has been experimenting with, given the trio of Clark, Isabell and Keith Shamburger.
“We practice it a lot, playing with two other point guards,” said Clark, who typically handled the ball when out on the court. “They’re great shooters, so it continues to make it easier for me, because the team is spread out to play more against a shooter, so it makes it easier for me to drive.”
Ryan Rosburg had 13 points and led Missouri with eight rebounds.
“I thought Ryan did a nice job,” Anderson said. “I thought we were able to get the ball inside KP had a couple of good ones. We learned a lot because we fouled a lot. You can’t that foul that much. … But, think of it as a good learning experience.”
The game was played in the Hearnes Center while the Mizzou Arena receives a new scoreboard. The Hearnes Center, Missouri basketball’s home until 2004, looks as if it could use one as well. The machine operating the scoreboard had to be replaced, and it occasionally looked like a slot machine.
The court is now the home to Missouri’s volleyball team, and when Deuce Bello stepped outside a line that wasn’t actually the court’s sideline — marked with temporary tape — a referee overturned an out-of-bounds call.
Missouri plays its next exhibition game at home Nov. 8 against Missouri-St. Louis.