It might not have been by 60-plus points, but Missouri’s victory in its last exhibition game got the job done.
One week after defeating Truman State 96-33, the Tigers won a bit more modestly with a 83-60 triumph over Northwest Missouri State.
“I thought this was a good test for our basketball team,” coach Mike Anderson said. “You’re going to get everyone’s best shot.”
Missouri now focuses on the start of the regular season against Tennessee-Martin on Tuesday night.
“Coach said this is the end of the free ones,” sophomore forward Laurence Bowers said. “Exhibitions, they’re free.”
Missouri has never lost an exhibition game with Anderson as coach.
“I feel like we accomplished a lot as a team during these exhibition games,” senior guard Zaire Taylor said. “We did a good job in preparing as much as we can. There’s no way to really fully give an example until you get on the court, but all in all I feel like we are getting ready."
Although the Tigers buried Truman State early on in last week’s game, Northwest Missouri State did not go down so easily.
The Bearcats kept things close in the first half by keeping the pressure on Missouri’s defense.
The Tigers held the lead for the majority of the half, but the advantage hovered around a possession or two.
Leading 34-32, the Tigers went on an 11-0 run to end the half pull away for their biggest lead of the game.
Coming off the bench, Bowers scored eight points and had four rebounds.
“I think the strength of our team is going to be the bench,” Anderson said. “I think our bench came in, and they got us going.”
In the second half, Missouri continued to push on the gas pedal until its lead swelled to 31 points with 7:36 left in the game.
Bowers and sophomore guard Marcus Denmon ended the game tied as Missouri’s leaders scorers, and Bowers led the team with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Missouri was generally cold from the field, shooting 39.5 percent in the first and 36.4 percent in the second.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Northwest Missouri State’s production fell off in the second half, as well.
The Bearcats shot 37 percent from the field in the second half, after hitting half their field goals in the first half. Their 3-point percentage went from 66.7 percent to 25 percent.
For Anderson, the exhibition finale not only provided Missouri another win but an opportunity to learn from Northwest Missouri State’s fast start.
“The energy that team came out with, that’s what they are going to see all year,” Anderson said. “To me it’s a teaching point. Now we can go back in the gym, and we can really get ready.”