Missouri's bench adds 38 in Arkansas State win

Junior guard Wes Clark: “We got some stops which made it a little bit easier for us, and we had good ball movement that we didn’t have in Kansas City.”
Missouri Tigers guard Terrence Phillips attempts to get past Arkansas State Red Wolves guard PJ Hardwickduring the basketball game on Dec. 1 at the Mizzou Areana.

With Arkansas State surging in the remaining minutes of Tuesday night’s matchup against the Missouri men’s basketball team, Tigers sophomore guard Namon Wright hoisted one from downtown and was fouled.

The string music played as the shot went down, but a foul call rang out, too. Wright converted a four-point play and then a layup the next possession to seal the deal against the Red Wolves, 88-78.

“I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half. The second half, our perimeter defense and our help defense (struggled),” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “Namon makes a big shot when we’re struggling (in the second half) and I thought that was the thing to get us back going again — but good win.”

Anderson hinted at the disparity between the two halves throughout the press conference.

Mizzou opened the game with back-to-back buckets in the paint from senior center Ryan Rosburg. In the Tigers’ first game back at Mizzou Arena since last week’s College Basketball Experience Classic in Kansas City, the emphasis on paint points was extremely evident from the tip.

Add the Tigers’ 4-8 shooting start to the 14 shots the Red Wolves missed to open the game, and one can grasp why Mizzou led 13-0 to open the contest.

“It just started defensively,” junior guard Wes Clark said. “We got some stops which made it a little bit easier for us, and we had good ball movement that we didn’t have in Kansas City.”

That ball movement faltered towards the end of the first half, though, due to the early foul trouble that plagued freshman starting point guard Terrence Phillips once again. For the fifth of six games this year, Phillips picked up four fouls — three in the first half.

The last 20 minutes of the game were a different story. With 11:59 to play in the game, Arkansas State — led by junior guard Donte Thomas’ 13 second-half points — cut the lead to five points after a 19-2 run.

When asked if they were nervous, Clark and Wright said, “No.” Anderson felt differently, saying, “I was nervous. We could’ve lost that game.”

The foul trouble at guard forced Wright and sophomore guard Tramaine Isabell to pick up the slack as they opened up the half with back-to-back triples. Both Isabell and freshman guard KJ Walton contributed to the 38 points that the bench added on Tuesday night, a contribution that Anderson called “the key” for the Tigers.

“We’re a team that’s got to have guys step up every night,” Anderson said. “It’s not like we know ‘this guy’ is going to score 20 points every game. Unselfishness, sharing the basketball and valuing every possession (is critical).”

Next up for Missouri (3-3) is a matchup against Northern Illinois (6-0). Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday.

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