Ross, Missouri beat Nevada 83-70, go to 7-0
LAS VEGAS (AP)
Missouri may not be playing under the national radar for much longer.
Jordan Clarkson added 21 points for the Tigers (7-0), who converted 31 of 33 free throws.
''When you have those three guys playing the way they did tonight, we are going to be hard to beat,'' said coach Frank Haith, who returned from a five-game suspension to get wins on consecutive days at the tournament. ''When you have three guys that are going to go and get you 25 points - that's a luxury.''
Ross made 12 of 13 free throws and grabbed nine rebounds. Brown made four 3-pointers for Missouri, which finished 4-0 in the round-robin tournament and is likely to receive votes in this week's Associated Press poll.
Missouri was tournament co-champion with No. 19 UCLA, which beat Northwestern 95-79 to also finish 4-0.
''We executed so well in the first half, we took good shots,'' Haith said. ''We got to the free-throw line and we were moving the ball. In the second half, we took some quick shots. (Nevada) got into transition and they got a little rhythm and that's just the way college basketball is. Once (Nevada) cut the lead to five, we made big plays.''
Haith's suspension stemmed from his tenure at Miami, where the NCAA ruled he didn't monitor assistant coaches' actions with a booster.
Deonte Burton led Nevada (3-5) with 20 points and three blocks. He was 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. Marqueze Coleman had 15 points for the Wolf Pack, which ended the tourney 1-3.
Nevada cut the Tigers' 21-point first-half lead to five with six minutes left in the game, but Missouri went on a 16-8 run to pull away.
''We just have to play harder, we just can't let up in the second half like we did,'' Clarkson said. ''(In the second half) they were getting a lot of open shots, and once we started communicating, I felt like we shut them down.''
Missouri finished at 47 percent from the field, while the Wolf Pack was at 35.
''When you miss shots, and get a team like that in transition, I think that's what built the lead,'' Nevada coach David Carter said. ''I thought we were able to make some baskets, and crawl back into it.''
The tournament's championship format was changed to round-robin this year to accommodate the Tigers and Bruins, who have a game scheduled for Dec. 7 at Missouri and didn't want to play twice this season.
Missouri came out aggressive early against the Wolf Pack, taking an 11-2 lead and going up by as many as 21 points late in the first half. Brown and Ross each had 16 points in the half. Missouri shot 52 percent from the field and made 13 of 14 free throws to lead 44-26 at the break.
Missouri hosts West Virginia on Thursday before UCLA comes to Columbia.
''I fully expect (Missouri) to be in the NCAA tournament,'' Coleman said. ''We knew how fast and how strong they were. Their speed and height was tough. They got to us in the first half. In the second half, we made some adjustments and got the lead down to five, they hit a couple of baskets and took care of us.''