Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
Friday was supposed to be a homecoming for Kim Anderson. The new Missouri basketball coach took to the court bearing the signature of Norm Stewart, whom Anderson played and coached under at Missouri.
Instead, the most prevalent cheer of the night was “Who’s house? Roos’ house!” as the Tigers fell to the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos 69-61 in Anderson’s debut.
“It’s really disappointing,” Anderson said, “but I believe in these guys. They’re young. They haven’t played together much.”
The win was UMKC’s first against a power conference school since a 93-52 defeat of Kansas State in 2003. The loss was Missouri’s second straight against a non-power conference school, as a 71-63 loss to Southern Mississippi elimated Missouri from the National Invitation Tournament last year.
UMKC’s Martez Harrison led all scorers with 26 points.
“He basically dominated in the second half with the ball screens,” Missouri sophomore Wes Clark said. “We didn’t guard it as well as we should have and he got to the line a lot.”
Harrison shot 15-of-16 from the free-throw line, singlehandedly topping Missouri’s 8-of-16 performance from the charity stripe.
Montaque Gill-Caesar led Missouri in scoring with 21 points in his first game as a Tiger, but he shot just 39 percent from the field. He and Clark took 59 percent of Missouri’s shots and made just 35 percent of them.
Keith Shamburger, a Hawaii transfer, started the game, presumably in place of Jakeenan Gant. Missouri announced before the game Gant has been “withheld from competition as a result of a review regarding his eligibility” and no further comment was made.
More than half of the Tigers’ minutes were played by either freshmen or transfers who had not yet played at Missouri.
“We just weren’t all the way there tonight,” Clark said. “We don’t really have that good of a feel for each other.”
The Kangaroos ran a zone defense against Missouri, and the Tigers appeared stumped.
“At the beginning, they kind of extended their zone, so it’s hard to get open shots,” Gill-Caesar said, “and it’s a little bit harder to get the ball inside. When we did get open looks, we just weren’t hitting.”
The Tigers were out-rebounded 43-28, and post players Keanau Post and Ryan Rosburg combined for three points and two field goal attempts.
“We struggled on the baseline,” Anderson said. “It was more like a three-man game out front just passing the ball around.”
The Tigers led only 36 seconds of the game, at 3-2. The Kangaroos jumped out to a 21-9 lead in the first, and the spot was familiar for the Tigers. Missouri fell as many as 11 points behind Missouri-St. Louis — another University of Missouri System school — in its final exhibition game. Unlike that contest, however, the Tigers were unable to bounce back.
Missouri narrowed the lead to as many as three in the second half, but that was as close as it got.
Missouri had 25 personal fouls on the night, and the defense drew boos at one point in the first half when the Tigers failed to adjust defensively and allowed wide-open looks.
“I know I’m supposed to be Mr. Defense,” Anderson said, “but obviously I wasn’t tonight.”
The Tigers don’t have long to linger on the loss. Missouri hosts Valparaiso on Sunday.
“I think all the stuff’s correctable,” Anderson said. “We’ve got one day to correct it.”