ORLANDO, Fla. — K.J. Walton scored 20 points and Frankie Hughes added 14 points as Missouri rallied to beat Tulane 67-62 at the Tire Pros Invitational.
Kevin Puryear scored 11 points for the Tigers (2-2), who claimed seventh place in the tournament.
“I'm glad for our team that we finally experienced some success at this tournament,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “I think maybe we had a little doubt in our minds today and the only way I know to cure that is to play with effort and intensity. We challenged them to do that and they responded.”
Tulane (1-4) got 18 points from Cameron Reynolds and 10 apiece from Malik Morgan and Kaiin Harris, but lost for the third straight time.
“This was a tale of two halves for us,” Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy said. “I thought we did a really nice job with their dribble penetration in the first half. Then they just took it to us in the second half, got to the free throw line a bunch and scored 40 points in the paint on us. It's hard to survive that number.”
Puryear and Walton, who had two points each in the first half, woke up a stagnant Missouri offense at the start of the second half. They combined for 27 points after halftime.
Puryear scored nine of his team's first 11 points of the second half with some strong post-up moves to cut the 10-point halftime deficit to just 36-33 with 15:50 left. A few minutes later, Walton came off the bench and scored 11 points in a 15-3 run to give Missouri a 51-46 lead.
Missouri desperately needed this win. The Tigers looked uninspired in the first half but showed a lot of fight and energy in the final 20 minutes. Tulane was just as desperate, but expectations for the Green Wave aren't nearly as high as they are for the Tigers. Tulane led most of the game and had an opportunity to steal a win at the end.
AT THE LINE
Missouri didn't shoot a free throw in the first half, but went 13 of 16 in the second half.
“Us not shooting a free throw in the first half is not a criticism of the officials; we just weren't taking the ball strong to the basket,” Anderson said. “We didn't abandon the perimeter game in the second half, but we wanted to get the ball to the basket as much as possible, and it showed.”
Missouri allowed opponents to shoot progressively better in each of its first three games before halting the run against Tulane. The Tigers limited Tulane to 33.3 percent for the game after allowing Davidson to shoot 44.4 percent in its last game.
Tulane's 32-22 halftime lead was the first time the Green Wave has led at the half in three games in the tournament. The advantage didn't last.
Missouri will host Northwestern State on Saturday.