Missouri’s 1993-94 men’s basketball team gave the fans a reason to start cheering Friday night. The 2013-14 squad never gave them a reason to stop.
Moments after Missouri’s 93-94 Big 8 Conference champions were honored for the 20th anniversary of their undefeated conference season, this year’s edition of the Tigers jumped out to an early 15-point lead.
Missouri never came close to relinquishing the lead, winning 73-48 against Oklahoma City University in the first MU basketball game played at the Hearnes Center since the team moved to Mizzou Arena in 2004.
Junior guard Jabari Brown led the Tigers with 15 points on 6-9 shooting. Senior guard Earnest Ross scored 13 points and led the team with 12 rebounds.
In the pregame ceremony, players’ accomplishments were individually honored, with each player receiving a jersey with their names on it. After the players had been announced, Missouri’s all-time wins leader Norm Stewart walked onto the floor to cheers the reached 100 on the arena’s decibel meter.
“I thought that was absolutely incredible,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “I thought coach Stewart was just amazing. Just standing out there with him and just talking to him and seeing those guys and their emotions. (I am) just so happy for them.”
Junior guard Jordan Clarkson scored seven points and and six assists in the first half before sitting out most of the second half with a bruised thigh. Several of Clarkson’s assists went to Brown, including a stretch pass down the floor which led to an easy layup.
“I’m really, really pleased where he’s at as a point guard,” Haith said. “He can score too, but he’s definitely worked really hard at being (a point guard).”
Oklahoma City pulled close midway through the second, scoring 13-straight points to make it just 51-41 MU with 11:43 to play. After a timeout by Haith, the Tigers went on a 22-6 run to close out the game.
Brown said the timeout helped the team refocus on defense and focus on the little things.
“When we’re where we’re supposed to be and we’re playing with an intensity, it enables us to get out on the break, and I feel like we’re a real good team,” Brown said.
After the seeing the ceremony first hand, Brown said he wanted the 2013-14 to make history of its own.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to have such a great year that 20 years from now we’ll be able to come back and get honored from the fans here,” Brown said.