Missouri remains undefeated at home with Omaha victory
Freshman guard Terrence Phillips, “It feels good to be 5-0 at home and a lot of that has to do with our Mizzou fans bringing the noise and the energy every night.”
Dec. 10, 2015
Sparked by freshman guard KJ Walton’s aggressiveness toward the hoop late in the first half, the Missouri basketball team forced Omaha to call a timeout after a 10-0 run.
With Walton and freshman guard Terrence Phillips pushing the pace for Mizzou, the Tigers led 37-30 at halftime and ultimately knocked off the Mavericks by the same margin, 85-78, to move to 5-3 on the year and 5-0 at home.
“It was an ugly game, but I’m sure that’s probably the way they wanted it to be and they did a great job pressuring our guys and forcing us into making some mistakes,” coach Kim Anderson said. ”But, having said that, we did a good job defensively, so I’m happy with the win and proud of these guys.”
Trading baskets to open the contest, both Mizzou and Omaha had success early. Missouri — whose goal is to establish itself in the post — was able to convert two paint buckets at the outset, while Omaha, who prides itself on its pilfering tactics due to pressure defense, was able to force the Tigers into what resulted in a season-high in turnovers with 18.
“That was the first time we experienced some pressure from a different team,” Phillips said. “We learned from it tonight and just have to handle it better when we go on the road.”
With Missouri’s two freshman guards pushing the pace, the Tigers generated separation with six minutes left in the first half leading, 28-18, and eventually closed the half on a strong note thanks to a three-pointer from freshman forward Kevin Puryear.
In the second half, the Tigers picked up right where they left off continuing to convert paint baskets. It was a run, though, about midway through the second half that stalled the Tigers offense — similar to the other Tigers’ home games. And with 10:27 remaining in the second half, Omaha completed a 7-0 run which cut the lead to 59-54. Although the Tigers again separated, the Mavericks stuck around.
In the end, the Tigers were just too much, due in part to Phillips.
For the 5-foot-11 guard, another day led to another game and another all-around performance. Knocking down jumpers and assisting teammates — not jumping over tables on Wednesday night — wowed the crowd.
As a guy who’s attempted to connect to the fans on social media and on the court since moving from his home in Orange County, California, Phillips relishes the home success.
“It feels good to be 5-0 at home and a lot of that has to do with our Mizzou fans bringing the noise and the energy every night,” Phillips said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
The Tigers will face the 13th-ranked Arizona Wildcats in Tuscon, Arizona, Dec. 13.
"It's a great opportunity for us to go play one of the top programs in the country,” Anderson said. “We have to be more efficient, though. We can't expect to make the mistakes we made tonight and expect to beat a team like Arizona.”