Horns drop Big 12 opener at Mizzou

January 12, 2008 3:36:46 PM PST
A succession of narrow losses to top teams from the Big 10, Southeastern Conference and other power leagues had some Missouri fans wondering whether the Tigers would have been better served with a bunch of early season patsies. After Saturday's convincing 97-84 victory over No. 12 Texas in the Big 12 opener for both teams, consider that theory all but obsolete.

It was Missouri's first win over Texas in 10 tries dating to 1999, Norm Stewart's final season as coach of the Tigers.

"We weren't in awe," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "Our nonconference schedule prepped us a lot better this year."

Among Missouri's out-of-conference opponents were Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, California, Arkansas, Illinois and Mississippi State. Of that group, the Tigers beat only Maryland and Purdue.

Reserve guard Keon Lawrence scored a season-high 18 points to lead six players in double figures for Missouri (11-5). Starting guards Jason Horton and Stefhon Hannah both had season highs -- 16 for Horton and 15 for Hannah.

Damion James led Texas (13-3) with 27 points, while A.J. Abrams had 21 and D.J. Augustin 17.

The starting guards for Texas had uncharacteristically poor shooting games. Abrams finished 3-of-11 from 3-point range, while Augustin -- the preseason choice as Big 12 player of the year -- was just 6-of-16 from the field and made just two of his seven free throws.

"We just came out flat, "Abrams said. "If you come out flat in a big conference game, or any conference game, you're going to get beat."

Missouri shot 56.1 percent from the field, including 12-of-26 from 3-point range. Texas shot 43.8 percent from the field, making 9-of-25 of its 3-point attempts.

The 97 points scored were a season high for Missouri, which shot 70.4 percent in the second half, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.

"We played horrible," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "We deserved to get beat."

Texas controlled the first half behind 19 points and seven rebounds from James. The Longhorns led by as many as eight but went more than 5 minutes with scoring, allowing Missouri to remain within 40-38 at halftime.

Missouri opened a 10-point lead with a 14-2 run to start the second half. The lead grew to as many as 16 points, with Texas getting no closer than six points in the second half.

Reserve forward Marshall Brown added 14 points for Missouri, DeMarre Carroll had 12 and Leo Lyons 10.

Both Brown and Horton are native Texans, with Horton growing up in Dallas and Brown hailing from Austin.

Anderson said the Lone Star State connection gave extra incentives to the two seniors.

Missouri attracted a season-high 13,085 fans to Mizzou Arena and Anderson said the crowd's energy helped fuel the Tigers as they pulled ahead in the second half.

"Their energy took our guys to another level," he said. Missouri's bench outscored Texas' 38-10.

Starting center Connor Atchley's foul trouble, along with Barnes' decision to limit freshman forward Gary Johnson's minutes, led the Longhorns to rely on little-used reserves Clint Chapman, Dexter Pittman and Ian Mooney -- a walk-on who transferred from Saint Louis -- for long stretches of the second half.

"You could see they were really tired," Horton said. "They even had to play the walk-on kid. ... When you saw them put him in, you knew they were in trouble."

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