Mizzou Basketball Opens Exhibition Play, Disposes of NW Missouri

Mitchell Urban brings you the coverage for the first men’s basketball exhibition game.

Monday, Oct. 29-

In their preseason opener, the Missouri Tigers came out on fire both offensively and defensively against Northwest Missouri State. Missouri was playing without Michael Dixon and Dominique Bull, both out due to suspension.

Mizzou, who flat out dominated the first twenty minutes, opened the half on a 25-3 run, as the new transfers showed amazing chemistry behind SEC Preseason Player of the Year Phil Pressey.

Earnest Ross, a junior transfer from Auburn, led the Tigers in scoring in the half with 17, as he went 5-6 from downtown. However, fellow transfer Keion Bell put on a show of his own.

Bell’s athleticism was apparent throughout the half on both ends of the floor. Offensively, his strength and slashing ability allowed him to score 10 points on 4-5 shooting. On defense, he used quick hands and smarts to force two steals.

Not to be outdone though, was Missouri’s star, Pressey. While he didn’t carry the scoring load, Pressey unleashed an astounding nine assists in the first half, most of which came in transition.

Northwest Missouri State struggled to hold onto the ball in the first half, committing 14 turnovers. The Tigers easily took advantage and entered the half leading 53-21.

In the second half, Missouri’s intensity decreased noticeably while holding a large lead. The Tigers began to show the difference from last year’s team: a presence of legitimate big men. Alex Oriakhi, a senior transfer from Connecticut, and Lawrence Bowers, returning after missing all of last season with an ACL injury, made their presence known on both ends of the floor.

Oriakhi provided a bruising inside presence that the Missouri fans have been waiting for. While chipping in eight points, Oriakhi pounded the boards, collecting 10 rebounds and blocking two shots.

Bowers, a former member of the Big 12 All-Defensive team, picked up right where he left off two years ago. He only collected three rebounds, but he forced three steals, and put up 14 points on 6-8 shooting. The two Missouri big men gave a preview of what looks to be a formidable frontcourt for the new-look Tigers.

The highlight of the second half came courtesy of Bell. The flashy guard dunked over two Bearcat defenders, which brought some excitement to an otherwise flat second half.

Despite a lackadaisical finish, Missouri held on for a sizeable 91-58 victory. Ross finished with a team-high 22 points, and Pressey finished with 11 assists.

The Tigers will play their second preseason game at 2 p.m. Sunday against Missouri Southern at Mizzou Arena.

-Samuel Snow
23 Sports
Staff Writer