Nebraska beats shorthanded Missouri for first Big 12 win
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)—Mike Anderson put principles ahead of victories, yet still pushed Nebraska to the limit with a skeleton roster.
Missouri’s second-year coach is confident the five players he suspended in the wake of a weekend nightclub altercation learned from watching the Cornhuskers escape with a 66-62 victory, their first in the Big 12, against the severely short-handed Tigers on Wednesday night. He also hinted that the suspension might be lifted after one game.
“Who knows what the kids thought?” Anderson said. “But I think they’re hurting a lot. They let themselves down, they let their teammates down.”
Aleks Maric had 13 points and 13 rebounds and Ryan Anderson made a clinching steal and layup with 16 seconds to go for Nebraska.
“That first one is the toughest to get,” coach Doc Sadler said. “I don’t think we played very well, but I do think that we showed tremendous, tremendous toughness.”
DeMarre Carroll had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Missouri, which made Nebraska work despite a game-day roster of only eight players. Anderson indefinitely suspended two starters and three key reserves for violating team rules after guard Stefhon Hannah got a broken jaw and was knocked unconscious in a late-night altercation early Sunday outside a downtown nightclub.
Missouri’s next game is Saturday at home against Kansas State, which upset No. 2 Kansas on Wednesday night.
“What gets lost is they’re still kids,” Anderson said. “It’ll be evaluated and it’s a possibility they will be back in time for the Kansas State game.”
Before the season began Anderson issued a no-tolerance policy, with nightclubs ruled off-limits to players, after off-court incidents involving forward Darryl Butterfield, Carroll and Kalen Grimes, the leading rebounder last season. Grimes was kicked off the team after hitting another man with the butt of a sawed-off shotgun.
Hannah, who is expected to miss the rest of the season, was suspended along with Butterfield, Leo Lyons, Jason Horton and Marshall Brown for being at the Athena nightclub hours after the Tigers returned from a victory at Colorado. The situation left Missouri (12-9, 2-4 Big 12) with more student managers rebounding shots than players shooting them at one point during pre-game warmups. All but Hannah, who was sent home to Chicago to recover from his injury, were in street clothes on the bench.
Maric bounced back after going scoreless in a blowout loss at Kansas on Saturday for Nebraska (12-6, 1-4), which last lost its first four conference games in 1990, before fouling out with 2:20 to go and the Cornhuskers ahead 60-58. Steve Harley had 15 points and Sek Henry 14.
“Unfortunately they got into some kind of confrontation or whatever,” Harley said. “You can’t worry about other things that happened, you still have to go out there and perform. “
J.T. Tiller added 14 points for Missouri, which fell to 10-2 at home, with the other loss to then-No. 3 Kansas. All 10 victories have been by double digits.
Missouri trailed by nine points in the first half, but by only two at the break, and kept it close throughout. The Tigers tied it three times, the last time at 60-60 on Vaidotas Volkus’ basket from the baseline with 1:50 to go.
“We were just one or two stops away,” Carroll said. “We just came up short, but we played our hearts out.”
Ryan Anderson, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds, stole an outlet pass near midcourt and hit an uncontested layup to make it 64-60 with 16 seconds left.
“I went for it,” Anderson said. “And it was good timing.”
Missouri’s coaching staff received a standing ovation as it walked onto the court for the first time from a crowd of 8,660, just over half-filled in the Mizzou Arena. Missouri compensated for the lack of manpower by conserving a bit of energy, pressing less and playing more zone, and leaving walk-on guard Nick Berardini on the bench throughout.
Tiller got only his second start of the season, Volkus got his third and Mike Anderson Jr., son of the coach, scored his first points of the season on a jumper midway through the first half.
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for former football coach Larry Smith, who died on Monday. Smith ended a 13-year bowl drought at Missouri with consecutive appearances in 1997 and ’98.
The Tigers’ 12-win football team showed off its Cotton Bowl trophy at halftime.