Tigers pull away late

On a night where the focus was more on the team being honored before the game than the team playing, Mizzou was able to shake off some early second half struggles to pull away from Oklahoma City for a 73-48 exhibition win. Jabari Brown finished as the leading scorer, with 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, and Earnest Ross finished as the leading rebounder, with 12.
Perhaps the most impressive player in the game, though, was Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson. He finished his debut with only seven points, but his control of the offense early in the game led to Missouri's best offensive possessions.
"[Jordan Clarkson] has worked hard at [being a good point guard]. I'm really pleased with where he is at as a point guard," said head coach Frank Haith. "I think he can score too. He had one great play where we got the outlet and Jabari ran and just turned and [Jordan] saw him, threw it and hit him in stride. He has great instincts and he is only going to get better. We got the lead and I just shut it down to get Wes some good hard minutes."
In all, six newcomers saw action in the game, including three starters. Johnathan Williams III had a balanced game, grabbing seven rebounds, scoring ten points and blocking two shots. The unassuming freshman looks like he will be a major contributor this season after getting his first start.
Junior college transfer Keanau Post was the third newcomer to start and, because of foul trouble, had the quietest game. The potential is visible, but if he cannot get a handle on his foul issues it may not be reached this season. Post finished the game with four points, four rebounds and two blocks in only 14 minutes of playing time.
"We got a couple guys we can rotate in there, but [the post players] have to play better," Haith explained. "Talking to the officials during the game, once the guy catches the ball you got to get your hands off. It's something that we're all going to have to adjust to defensively and that's what these games are all about."
Missouri went into half with a 43-24 lead, but some sloppy play in the early second half led to Oklahoma City cutting the lead to 10 points with 11:43 left in the game.
"I thought we slacked off defensively, particularly offensive rebounding. They ended up with 14 offensive rebounds. Those are effort plays. I look at numbers like that and those are things we can fix. We didn't block out with intensity. It was the first night of us seeing how the games are going to be officiated. We got to get adjusted and adapted to that and understand how we need to play defensively without fouling," said Haith.
Mizzou closed the game on 22-7 run to secure their first win of the year, even though it will not count on their record. Next up for the Tigers is their final exhibition against Central Missouri on November 1. Tip time has been moved back to 7:30 p.m. CST.
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