SE Missouri loses to No. 25 Missouri 83-68
Tyler Stone had a strong debut for Southeast Missouri State. The sophomore forward insisted there was no added incentive.
Stone had 18 points and six rebounds in an 83-68 opening loss to No. 25 Missouri on Friday night. He was on the end of the Missouri bench most of his freshman season in 2009-10, then transferred after his scholarship got pulled.
''I thought he really proved he could play on any level,'' coach Dickey Nutt said.
The 6-foot-8 Stone said it wasn't an emotional occasion.
''Not at all, it was just another game,'' Stone said. ''Just trying to get this win. I knew I would come back to Missouri, so that didn't mean anything to me.''
Missouri players were impressed with the improvement Stone has made.
''He looked good in film all week,'' guard Kim English said. ''He grew. He got older. He got bigger. He looked really good. I'm excited to see what he does this year.''
Ricardo Ratliffe and Marcus Denmon had 20 points apiece in new coach Frank Haith's debut.
English added 19 points and hit four 3-pointers in the second half, going 5 for 9 from long distance overall as the Tigers pulled away after leading by only two at the break. The Tigers have a 59-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents dating to the 2005-06 opener.
Marcus Brister added 15 points and six assists for Southeast Missouri State.
''It was the first 5 minutes in the second half that hurt us,'' Nutt said. ''We didn't have the intensity that we needed, like we did in the first half.''
Still, he was pleased with his team.
''They fought hard,'' Nutt said. ''The guys who played, they gave me every ounce of effort.''
Missouri entered the season ranked for the first time since 2003-04 coming off three straight NCAA tournament bids, although Haith is under a bit of a cloud facing possible NCAA sanctions dating to his time at Miami.
The Tigers lack height without 6-foot-9 Laurence Bowers, out for the year with a knee injury, and often had four guards on the floor, making it tougher to put Southeast Missouri State away.
Southeast Missouri State was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Ohio Valley Conference, is 0-6 against Missouri and 0-8 against ranked teams and has lost six straight openers. Plus, starting forward Leon Powell didn't play because of a knee injury.
Still, the Redhawks battled on even terms throughout the first half, opening a quick 7-0 lead and shooting 52 percent. They led by six with about 4 1/2 minutes to go before Missouri finished on a 12-4 run for a 38-36 lead, half the points coming on free throws and the go-ahead a basket coming on Phil Pressey's layup with 1.7 seconds left.
Missouri opened the second half on a 17-6 run and kept the game at arm's length the rest of the way.