No. 12 Missouri surges past Tennessee State
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Tennessee State was in a close game at halftime against No. 12 Missouri on Saturday.
Despite missing 17 of its final 21 shots of the half, Tennessee State trailed 23-20 in part because of 11 Missouri turnovers.
But while its opponent started making more shots, Tennessee State (4-6) remained mired in the slump.
Tennessee State was on the wrong end of a 14-3 run after the break and fell out of contention en route to a 68-38 loss that snapped its three-game winning streak.
"We reverted back to our old ways, taking too many 3s," coach Travis Williams said. "I felt we settled for too many 3's. We normally would make certain shots and we didn't make those shots tonight."
Robert Covington scored 12 points and Jordan Cyphers added 11 points for Tennessee State, which only made 7 of 36 shots in the second half and finished 6 of 24 from 3-point range after starting 3 of 5.
"We were doing too much having to figure out who was going to guard whom," Covington said. "We weren't communicating at times."
Stefan Jankovic scored all of his 14 points in the second half to help Missouri (8-1) overcome another sloppy opening.
A freshman from Mississauga, Ontario, Jankovic dunked off a missed jumper by Laurence Bowers with 14:18 remaining for his first two points. That highlighted the team's early second-half run which propelled the Tigers to the win.
"He was huge," senior forward Alex Oriakhi said of Jankovic. "When he came into the game, I said, `We need your energy.' And that's exactly what he gave us."
Jankovic says practice allows him to be ready to enter a game off the bench, no matter how long he's been sitting.
"That's my game sometimes. I find myself in practice trying my hardest, so when the game comes -- I'm going up against guys like Alex and Laurence (Bowers) in practice -- I'm ready."
Bowers had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Oriakhi added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Missouri, which defeated its second consecutive Ohio Valley Conference team following a 81-65 win Tuesday over Southeast Missouri State.
Both teams failed to make a basket for several-minute stretches in the first half, combining for 18 turnovers and 34.6 percent shooting from the field.
Missouri led by at least nine the rest of the way, gradually extending its lead following an M.J. Rhett free throw that cut the deficit to 32-23 with 15:07 left.
Missouri coach Frank Haith said Saturday's 23-point first half was the result of poor execution.
"We want to get off to good starts," Haith said. "We've had some games where we've gotten off to good starts and we didn't finish well. So it's just a matter of putting together 40 minutes."
Bowers and Oriakhi combined for all of Missouri's 23 points in the first half except for an Earnest Ross free throw with 4:01 remaining.
Missouri endured stretches of 5:54 and 4:49 without scoring a basket in the first half and turned the ball over 11 times, yet managed to shoot 40 percent from the field to take a three-point lead at halftime.
Missouri also outrebounded Tennessee State 52-27 for the game and made 15 of 19 free throws. Tennessee State only attempted five, all in the second half, and made two.
Bowers is averaging 22.3 points in his past three games. Before scoring 26 on Tuesday, his career high was 23.
"He's been real consistent," Haith said. "And he's been our go-to guy thus far this season. But I do think we have a number of guys who can score. Guys who just have to continue to get comfortable."
No one exemplifies being more comfortable than Oriakhi, who collected his third double-double of the season, one better than all of last season at Connecticut. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward says Haith's confidence in him has allowed his offensive game to grow.
Missouri extended its home winning streak against nonconference opponents to 71 games dating to the 2005-06 opener.
The team has nine days off before adding highly touted transfer Jabari Brown to its lineup. Brown, who played at Oregon, joined the Tigers after the first semester of last season.
"He will not start, I can tell you that," Haith said. "But he'll get some court time."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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