After losing two consecutive contests, Missouri men’s basketball hit the reset button with an easy victory over Paul Quinn College, 91-59, on Monday night at Mizzou Arena.
Though the numbers look decent enough on paper, this was not as dominant of a win as it should have been against a NAIA team that had lost all three of its games against bottom tier Division I opponents by an average of 20.3 points this season.
“I’ve never been concerned with the opponent because wins are hard to come by and you never know when you’ll get your next,” Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin said after the game. “So you always applaud and appreciate them, but they’re also things that you want to correct when you look at your game film. And the biggest key, I said to our guys, ‘Just be consistent from start to finish, maintain your confidence but be consistent. And move the ball share the ball and play as hard as you can play.’”
Mizzou (4-3) made 34 of 74 shots (45.9%) from the field, including 8 of 29 (27.6%) on three-point attempts.
Forward Kobe Brown, who has established himself as the clear leader for the Tigers, recorded his second double-double of the season. He finished with 20 points and 23 rebounds in the victory, along with six assists and two steals. He is the first Mizzou player to grab that many boards since 1980.
“I’m definitely surprised,” Brown said of grabbing 23 boards. “I never thought I’d get them many. But it’s a blessing.”
Brown also finished with a plus-43 rating in 34 minutes, meaning Mizzou was outscored by 13 points when he wasn’t on the floor.
“Tremendous effort because he stayed engaged,” Martin said of Brown. “... I knew he would move the ball and it wasn’t about points for him. He would facilitate and make stuff happen. So happy for him because he’s put the time into it.”
Three other Tigers finished in double figures: DaJuan Gordon (17), Amari Davis (14) and Javon Pickett (12). All ten Mizzou players who got into the game scored. Center Jordan Wilmore didn’t ever step onto the floor though after struggling through the early part of the season.
“He’s available,” Martin said. “Just some things I need to see him get better at.”
Against a NAIA opponent in Paul Quinn, this had to be the night Missouri finally figured out its offense and got some shots to fall early, right? Think again.
Mizzou let the visitors take a 10-9 lead with 12:11 left in the half. The Tigers kicked it into full gear from there though, going on a 33-9 run before halftime. They led 42-19 at the break, but only shot 4 of 19 (21.1%) from beyond the arc in the first half.
Though Mizzou coasted to a victory, it only outscored Paul Quinn by nine points in the second half.
The Tigers head on the road for their next game, set to face Liberty at 6 p.m. Central time Thursday.
“Any win is a good win,” Gordon said. “I think we learned that we all can shoot. We haven’t been making shots at all, but I think it’s just a good confidence boost for us.”