COLUMBIA — When UMKC guard Dane Brumagin spotted up in the corner in front of the Missouri bench with about four seconds left in the first half, just about everyone at Mizzou Arena knew what was coming.
Reggie Hamilton drove to the lane and kicked it out to Brumagin, who drilled his third 3-pointer in the last three minutes to tie the score at 35 and send the Kangaroos into halftime with momentum against the heavily favored Tigers.
While nobody outside the team was privy to coach Mike Anderson’s speech in the locker room, the Tigers (10-5) played like their scholarships depended on it in the opening minutes of the second half.
After a relatively quiet first half, the inside forward tandem of Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll exploded at the outset of the second period.
Missouri outscored the Roos 27-8 in the first six and a half minutes, led by eight points each from Lyons and Carroll during the pivotal run. By that time, it was 62-43 in favor of the Tigers, and they coasted to a 96-76 victory.
When someone asked Carroll if the halftime talk was the most angry he had ever seen Anderson, he didn’t hesitate long before agreeing.
“He pulled me and Jason (Horton) and Stefhon (Hannah) aside and told us that we better show ownership,” Carroll said. “This is our team, and I’m not going to let those guys go out with a bad senior year.”
Lyons, who had been ostracized by Anderson after a poor performance last week at Mississippi State, made 10 of 12 shots to finish with 22 points and added seven rebounds and three blocks in one of his better games of the season.
“We have good guards that can get us the ball,” Carroll said. “Leo and I were being bashful, and we need to demand the ball. They’ll get it to us.”
Carroll finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four steals, and one strange assist. He made a no-look, behind-the-back save of an errant pass and tumbled into the third row behind the basket. His pass was right in stride to Hannah for an easy layup. Anderson lauded Carroll’s hustle in his postgame talk and is trying to exhort more of that attitude out of his guys as the Tigers move into the conference season.
“That’s DeMarre. It was good to see that kind of energy,” Anderson said. “If we can get more guys with that kind of attitude, we have a chance to be a very good basketball team. He left it all out on the floor tonight.”
While Missouri did end up winning easily in the final tuneup before conference play begins in earnest with a visit from No. 12 Texas on Saturday, the Roos kept it close for a half before succumbing.
Brumagin had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Brent Stephens poured in 20 points. UMKC (5-12) chucked up 35 three-point attempts, nailing 14 of them, but was manhandled in the post and on the run.
The Tigers outscored the Roos 44-16 in the paint and dominated the fast break category, outscoring UMKC 19-0.
“I thought in the second half we dictated the tempo,” Anderson said. “We took advantage of the things we should have, but credit Coach Brown and his kids for not going away. We knew they wouldn’t.”
The focus quickly turns to the Longhorns and the onset of Big 12 conference play, and the Tigers will have their hands full on Saturday. Texas comes in with one of the best backcourts in the country, starring D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams. Anderson and his staff spent this week pulling double duty, preparing for both UMKC and Texas. With the Kangaroos out of the way, it’s time to get to work.
“It’s do or die time now,” Carroll said.