MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Memphis senior point guard Antonio Burks is starting to adapt to his role as team leader.
Burks contributed leadership, spirit and 17 points Saturday as Memphis beat No. 11 Missouri 61-59, the Tigers’ third loss in four games.
“I think that’s what I need to do,” Burks said when asked about running the offense and motivating teammates. “I need to step up when players on the floor are not playing hard. I’m learning the role.”
Burks was 7-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range. Memphis coach John Calipari said the senior is starting to take more control of the game by running the team.
“This team is young, but the catalyst has become Antonio Burks,” Calipari said. “I do not want him to be our leading scorer, but the way he ran the club, he tried to get everybody involved.”
Sean Banks added 13 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.
Missouri (4-3), which also lost to No. 21 Illinois this week, got within 60-59 on Rickey Paulding’s 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds remaining. Jimmy McKinney’s running shot from just beyond the 3-point line as time ran out bounced off the rim, giving Memphis (7-2) its third straight win.
Arthur Johnson, who fouled out with 2:40 remaining, led Missouri with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Paulding and Travon Bryant each scored 13 points. Bryant grabbed 10 rebounds as Missouri controlled the boards 49-35.
At times, the game was physical with coaches screaming about no-calls and bodies flying under the basket on rebounds.
“It came across (on TV), I imagine, as an absolute war,” Calipari said. “It was a good victory.”
Poor shooting in the first half hampered Missouri. Memphis led 35-26 at halftime after Missouri shot 24 percent from the field (9-of-37). Missouri made just one of its first 10 attempts.
Memphis led by 15 points twice, the first time capping a 12-2 run midway through the half.
“In the first half, we had a ton of opportunities in the paint and could not convert,” Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. “I was happy with how we responded defensively to that. Sometimes when you don’t see the ball go in, you can get discouraged defensively.”
Memphis made its run with fast breaks to offset the Missouri rebounding advantage, which included 17 offensive boards in the half. Burks had the hot hand, hitting his first four shots and he had 11 points in the first half, including three 3s in four attempts.
“Teams right now just don’t know that I can shoot like I’ve been shooting,” Burks said. “I’ve just been taking shots, and it’s just going down.”
Johnson had eight points for Missouri, but was 3-of-11 from the field in the first half.
Memphis was the one having trouble converting in the second half, shooting only 24 percent.
Missouri trailed 54-45 with just under 5 minutes to play, but went on an 8-0 run and made it 54-53 when McKinney hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:06 to play.
Missouri committed 16 turnovers to seven for Memphis.
“The first half we have five turnovers,” Snyder said. “We are playing the right way, we just did not get rewarded on the offensive end for playing that way. That shows you where we need to get better. Our halfcourt execution needs to get better.”
For Calipari, the win gave Memphis a little more respect than its previous victories over teams such as Belmont, Samford and Tennessee-Martin. Prior to Saturday, the best win so far was on the road at Mississippi.
“This team, if we battle,” Calipari said, “is going to be all right.”