(AP) — After dealing with the loss of one of their projected starters, Missouri knows it’s even more important for its new players to jell quickly.
The 12th-ranked Tigers will continue that work while seeking to extend their non-conference home win streak to 70 on Tuesday night against Southeast Missouri State.
Missouri had only two returning players from last season’s 30-win squad and one of those, senior guard Michael Dixon, announced Thursday that he was leaving the team after a pair of sexual assault allegations came to light. Dixon, who averaged 13.5 points and was named the Big 12’s top sixth man in 2011-12, had been suspended for the first six games this season.
With Dixon gone, the Tigers (6-1) will have to rely even more on point guard Phil Pressey and their newcomers. They’ll get another addition to their roster Dec. 17 when sophomore guard Jabari Brown, who came to Missouri from Oregon, becomes eligible.
Transfers Alex Oriakhi and Earnest Ross have started every game while Keion Bell has appeared to find his role as the sixth man. As a reserve, Bell has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time since coming over from Pepperdine, posting 12 points in a 72-56 win over visiting Appalachian State on Saturday.
“He probably has never come off the bench in his life, but he is doing well with it,” coach Frank Haith said. “Hopefully he will continue to grow in that role.”
Laurence Bowers, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, matched a career high with 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
“We just have to continue to build the chemistry of this team,” Bowers said. “This is the team we have been playing with since the beginning. We just have to continue to work. We are going to pray for Mike and get ready for SEMO.”
The Redhawks (6-4), winners of three in a row, are making their second visit to Missouri in as many seasons.
The then-No. 25 Tigers posted an 83-68 win in the season opener for both teams Nov. 11, 2011, but trailed 7-0 early and by four points late in the first half before pulling away.
After playing his freshman season at Missouri, Tyler Stone had 18 points and six rebounds in that game in his debut for Southeast Missouri State. The junior forward went on to be the Redhawks’ leading scorer in 2011-12 and he’s posting career-best numbers this season with 15.8 points and 9.3 boards per game.
Stone was 5 of 18 from the field in Saturday’s 61-58 victory at Southeastern Louisiana, but senior guard Corey Wilford helped compensate by scoring a team-best 18 points and making all five attempts from 3-point range. As a team, the Redhawks are 27 of 39 (69.2 percent) from beyond the arc during their win streak.
Missouri has won all six matchups against Southeast Missouri State, with all of those games taking place in Columbia.