Bowers, No. 15 Missouri cruise to win

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Laurence Bowers had 20
points and seven rebounds in his return from a knee injury that
sidelined him all of last season, leading No. 15 Missouri to an 83-69
season-opening victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday.

Bowers outscored the Cougars 10-2 by
himself during a two-minute stretch early in the second half for the
Tigers, who are ranked to start the season for a third straight year.

Phil Pressey scored 13 of his 19 points
in the first half and Alex Oriakhi, part of a strong transfer class, had
15 rebounds and eight points for Missouri.

Jerome Jones hit five 3-pointers and
scored 17 points for SIU Edwardsville, which was held to 33 percent
shooting. Reserve Michael Messer added 13 points but Mark Yelovich, the
Cougars’ top returning scorer, was held scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting
with four fouls.

Missouri won its 66th in a row at home
against non-conference opponents since the end of the 2005-06 season
without guard Michael Dixon, who is suspended for violating team rules.
Dixon, perhaps the best sixth man in the nation for last season’s 30-win
team, also did not dress in both exhibitions.

The Tigers won their home opener for
the 38th time in 39 seasons in front of a late-arriving crowd of 10,054,
many likely watching the Missouri football team’s overtime victory at
Tennessee that ended about 45 minutes before tip-off.

Freshman Negus Webster-Chan hit all
three of Missouri’s 3-pointers in the first half, the last two coming
over the final 2 minutes to help build a 40-34 lead. The Tigers trailed
most of the half, getting their first lead at 27-26 on Webster-Chan’s
3-pointer from the corner off a feed from Pressey with about 6 minutes
to go.

Missouri took its largest lead of the game after outscoring SIU Edwardsville 7-0 over the final 2:55.

SIU Edwardsville came out firing from
long range, hitting six of its first 14 3-point attempts. Jones tied his
career high with four 3-pointers in the half and had 14 points,
bettering last year’s 12.7-point average.

The Cougars led by as many as six in
the first half without any contribution from Kris Davis, who led the
nation with a 60-percent 3-point percentage but sat out the final 18:47
of the half after picking up two quick fouls. He finished with 11
points.

SIU Edwardsville was 10-17 last season,
its first in the Ohio Valley Conference, and is among just six
Division-I schools with no freshmen. The school is 0-4 against current
members of the SEC and 0-5 against Top 25 teams.