Missouri 89, Lipscomb 69
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)—Apparently, Keon Lawrence is a fast healer.
Missouri’s top freshman recruit broke a bone in his left foot Oct. 30 and was expected to miss four to six weeks. Instead, the 6-2 guard has played in every game, and on Thursday night led the way off the bench with 17 points and three assists in an 89-69 victory over Lipscomb.
“I just went out there and was playing hard and just let it come to me,” Lawrence said. “It fell in place.”
Marshall Brown added 15 points and Darryl Butterfield had 11 to give Anderson a 4-0 start with the rebuilding program, coming off consecutive losing seasons. Anderson is the school’s first coach to debut with four victories since George Bond was 5-0 in 1922-23, although all have come against lightly regarded opponents.
“I’m just looking forward to the next game, how about that?” Anderson said. “We want to keep improving.”
The biggest disappointment continues to be poor fan support. Mizzou Arena had announced attendance of 5,413, about one-third full, even after Anderson sent students an e-mail asking for support earlier Thursday. The biggest crowd was 7,386 against Army on Saturday.
“This is their team, and I want them to enjoy it, that’s all,” Anderson said. “Just come over and have some fun. They’ll come.”
Missouri, forced into a slower tempo in its previous two victories, pressed throughout and forced 21 turnovers. Trey Williams had 23 points and Eddie Ard 15 for Lipscomb (2-1), which totaled 23 turnovers in its first two games.
“We were awful,” coach Scott Sanderson said. “That’s the worst we’ve played since I’ve been here.
“Like I told my team, I was totally shocked with how we played.”
Led by Lawrence, the Missouri bench outscored the starters 49-40. The Tigers took control with a 17-2 run early in the first half and an 11-0 burst provided a 20-point cushion with just under 13 minutes to play.
“We’re playing with 10 or 11 guys and they play seven,” guard Jason Horton said. “I think it kind of wore on them. It’s hard to prepare for us, the way we play.”
Lawrence totaled 18 points in the three-game season-opening John Thompson Foundation Classic. Against Lipscomb he was 5-for-7 from 3-point range and played 23 minutes.
“It’s great to have him out there,” Anderson said. “He’s got a scorer’s mentality, he’s got a good feel for the game.”
It wasn’t too painful, either. Lawrence estimated his foot is “probably about 85 percent” healed.
“My foot,” he said, “it was feeling good today.”
Besides getting back to the running game, Missouri shored up perhaps its biggest weakness entering the game by going 27-for-35 from the free-throw line. The Tigers hit only 48 percent the first two games, but Brown was 9-for-10 against Lipscomb.
Both teams shot 37 percent in the first half, but Missouri also forced 14 turnovers and was 6-for-14 from 3-point range to take a 38-27 lead. Stefhon Hannah had 10 points, going 3-for-4 from long range.
Brown and J.T. Tiller had five points apiece in the 17-0 first-half run that put the Tigers ahead 22-9.
Kalen Grimes, coming off consecutive double doubles, was scoreless in the first half and finished with six points and six rebounds in 14 minutes—fewest among the starters. Butterfield and Vaidotas Volkus cut into his playing time.
Anderson said Grimes needed to establish himself closer to the basket.
“I don’t think it was a step back for him,” Anderson said. “He’s just got to understand when you have size advantage, you’ve got to utilize it.”