No. 12 Missouri surges past Tennessee State

Tennessee State was in a close game at halftime against No. 12

Missouri on Saturday.

Despite missing 17 of its final 21 shots of the half, Tennessee

State trailed 23-20 in part because of 11 Missouri turnovers.

But while its opponent started making more shots, Tennessee

State (4-6) remained mired in the slump.

Tennessee State was on the wrong end of a 14-3 run after the

break and fell out of contention en route to a 68-38 loss that

snapped its three-game winning streak.

”We reverted back to our old ways, taking too many 3s,” coach

Travis Williams said. ”I felt we settled for too many 3’s. We

normally would make certain shots and we didn’t make those shots

tonight.”

Robert Covington scored 12 points and Jordan Cyphers added 11

points for Tennessee State, which only made 7 of 36 shots in the

second half and finished 6 of 24 from 3-point range after starting

3 of 5.

”We were doing too much having to figure out who was going to

guard whom,” Covington said. ”We weren’t communicating at

times.”

Stefan Jankovic scored all of his 14 points in the second half

to help Missouri (8-1) overcome another sloppy opening.

A freshman from Mississauga, Ontario, Jankovic dunked off a

missed jumper by Laurence Bowers with 14:18 remaining for his first

two points. That highlighted the team’s early second-half run which

propelled the Tigers to the win.

”He was huge,” senior forward Alex Oriakhi said of Jankovic.

”When he came into the game, I said, `We need your energy.’ And

that’s exactly what he gave us.”

Jankovic says practice allows him to be ready to enter a game

off the bench, no matter how long he’s been sitting.

”That’s my game sometimes. I find myself in practice trying my

hardest, so when the game comes – I’m going up against guys like

Alex and Laurence (Bowers) in practice – I’m ready.”

Bowers had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Oriakhi added 15 points

and 10 rebounds for Missouri, which defeated its second consecutive

Ohio Valley Conference team following a 81-65 win Tuesday over

Southeast Missouri State.

Both teams failed to make a basket for several-minute stretches

in the first half, combining for 18 turnovers and 34.6 percent

shooting from the field.

But Phil Pressey’s 3-pointer and Negus Webster-Chan’s fast-break

layup within a 20-second stretch gave Missouri a 32-22 lead with

15:16 remaining.

Missouri led by at least nine the rest of the way, gradually

extending its lead following an M.J. Rhett free throw that cut the

deficit to 32-23 with 15:07 left.

Missouri coach Frank Haith said Saturday’s 23-point first half

was the result of poor execution.

”We want to get off to good starts,” Haith said. ”We’ve had

some games where we’ve gotten off to good starts and we didn’t

finish well. So it’s just a matter of putting together 40

minutes.”

Bowers and Oriakhi combined for all of Missouri’s 23 points in

the first half except for an Earnest Ross free throw with 4:01

remaining.

Missouri endured stretches of 5:54 and 4:49 without scoring a

basket in the first half and turned the ball over 11 times, yet

managed to shoot 40 percent from the field to take a three-point

lead at halftime.

Missouri also outrebounded Tennessee State 52-27 for the game

and made 15 of 19 free throws. Tennessee State only attempted five,

all in the second half, and made two.

Bowers is averaging 22.3 points in his past three games. Before

scoring 26 on Tuesday, his career high was 23.

”He’s been real consistent,” Haith said. ”And he’s been our

go-to guy thus far this season. But I do think we have a number of

guys who can score. Guys who just have to continue to get

comfortable.”

No one exemplifies being more comfortable than Oriakhi, who

collected his third double-double of the season, one better than

all of last season at Connecticut. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward

says Haith’s confidence in him has allowed his offensive game to

grow.

Missouri extended its home winning streak against nonconference

opponents to 71 games dating to the 2005-06 opener.

The team has nine days off before adding highly touted transfer

Jabari Brown to its lineup. Brown, who played at Oregon, joined the

Tigers after the first semester of last season.

”He will not start, I can tell you that,” Haith said. ”But

he’ll get some court time.”