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Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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Missouri, newcomers top Rotterdam in Europe tour opener

In its first contest during a five-game tour of Europe on Friday, the Missouri men's basketball team overpowered Rotterdam College, a professional Dutch team, 87-64.

Senior Keion Bell and junior Earnest Ross, the heralded transfers who are expected to have large roles for the Tigers after sitting out last season, led the way with 17 points a piece.

Bell, who begins his MU career after averaging 16.4 points over three seasons at Pepperdine, also contributed five rebounds and four assists in a team-high 34 minutes. Ross, from Auburn, had eight rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.

Bell and Ross were two of five finishing in double digits Friday.

“I thought the guys played well considering all but two haven’t been in a college game situation for a year,” said coach Frank Haith in a news release, referring to his transfer-loaded roster. “I thought we were active and kept them from getting into much of a rhythm. We put some guys in new spots, like running Keion Bell at the point and he looked good. This is exhibition for us, so we are going to look at some different combinations and we did that most of the second half. We are a deeper team and having a chance to get these young guys some playing time is a big positive.”

Junior forward Tony Criswell, a 6-foot-9, 226-pound transfer from Independence Community College in Independence, Kan., went 7-for-9 from the field for the Tigers, who shot 47.9 percent as a team. In 22 minutes, Criswell finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.

“I thought Tony did the things tonight that he has been doing in practice,” said Haith in the release. “He was active, aggressive and shot the ball with confidence. He did the same things we are going to need from him during the regular season.”

While Haith has decided to rest junior point guard Phil Pressey and senior forward Laurence Bowers during the trip, his third returning player from last season, senior guard Michael Dixon, dished out nine assists in the win. He added 10 points in 27 minutes.

Dixon committed five turnovers for the Tigers, who combined for 25 over the game.

Alex Oriakhi, a senior who transferred from Connecticut in March and is a former AAU teammate of Pressey’s, added six points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes.

Jabari Brown will sit out for the first half of Missouri’s season due to transfer rules, but the versatile 6-foot-5 guard got the starting nod for the Tigers on Friday. He chipped in 12 points in 31 minutes of floor time. Along with Brown, Bell, Dixon, Criswell and Oriakhi made up Haith's starting unit.

The Tigers' 10-day, 5-game exhibition European trip ventures through Holland, Belgium and France. The NCAA allows each Division I program to travel once every four years for a preseason foreign tour.

The team will face the Netherlands National B Team on Saturday.

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