No. 25 Missouri opens Friday night
After three exhibition games, new Missouri coach Frank Haith is excited about the official start to his first season.
''The lights are a little brighter,'' Haith said Thursday.
Haith's debut for the 25th-ranked Tigers is Friday night against Southeast Missouri State, which has Missouri transfer Tyler Stone on the roster.
''Even though he's played here and we have ties, once you get out on the floor, we all just go out there and compete,'' guard Marcus Denmon said.
Denmon led Missouri last season with a 16.9-point average, and the team figures to lean on its four starting seniors. Denmon, Kim English, Ricardo Ratliffe and Matt Pressey accounted for 63 percent of the scoring in the exhibition games, which Missouri won by an average of 34 points.
With only eight scholarship players, and only three taller than 6-foot-8, Haith said execution could level the playing field.
''It is a challenge, but we do have some strength in other areas that people don't have,'' Haith said. ''We have great speed. We have great quickness. It's like a chess match sometimes.''
Missouri will not have a height advantage Friday, and that will likely be the norm for the entire season.
Southeast Missouri State forward Leon Powell is questionable after injuring his knee an exhibition Monday night against Harding. An injury to the same knee kept Powell from playing two years ago but results of an MRI exam this week were negative.
Powell led Division I in field goal percentage last season, shooting 63 percent.
Missouri is 5-0 in the series, but the schools are meeting for the first time since 1997. Southeast Missouri State is 0-7 against ranked opponents.