COLUMBIA — It didn't take long for Marcus Denmon to show Missouri fans his scoring abilities.
The freshman from Kansas City scored the first 10 points for the black team in Wednesday's Black and Gold game at Mizzou Arena, and he was just getting started. He finished with a game-high 36 points on 14-of-17 shooting to lead the black team to a 110-84 victory in front of a crowd of 2,529. His only three-point miss on the night on seven attempts was an airball midway through the first half.
"When he wants to turn his game on, he can go," said teammate Zaire Taylor, who finished with 15 points and five assists.
Missouri coach Mike Anderson, who spent some time talking to each huddle during timeouts, said Denmon's performance wasn't all that surprising. He had a similar performance in Canada, and the Hogan Prep star has always shown an ability to explode for big games.
"He's still got a lot of work to do," Anderson said. "I like his energy, his toughness, his mindset."
The coach was extremely pleased with the way the rest of the black team's players recognized Denmon's hot hand and fed him the basketball. Their unselfishness helped them shoot 78 percent in a second half that saw them increase their lead from three to 27 in a 10-minute span. It showed bestwith 5:31 remaining, when Matt Lawrence passed up an open three to let Denmon make the shot from behind the arc to give his team 100 points. Even the star of the night shared the ball well, leading all players with six of his team's 28 assists.
"Everybody played unselfish," Denmon said. "Matt was passing up shots for me, I was passing up shots for everybody else."
The two teams played most of the game at a frantic pace, resulting in some sloppy play and 40 turnovers, including eight from freshman point guard Miguel Paul. Anderson stressed the importance of taking care of the ball, and said fatigue also played a factor, with only seven players on each bench.
"There aren't going to be games where Miguel Paul commits eight turnovers," Anderson said. "He was trying to show everybody what he could do."
Another player who said he struggled from trying a little too hard early on was the black team's Leo Lyons. After picking up four fouls in the first 13 minutes and scoring just four points in the first half, Lyons made seven of 10 shots in the second half to finish with 20 points to go along with his game-high nine rebounds.
"They were on a mission to make sure I did horrible, and they did pretty good in the first half," Lyons said. "Then I stopped trying to do so much, stopped trying to score and started to look for my other teammates."
On the defensive side, Lyons had to work hard to hold DeMarre Carroll to a team-high 20 points on six of 16 shooting. Oddly, last year's leading rebounder didn't have a defensive rebound, but Anderson liked Carroll's willingness to attack the basket, which allowed him to make eight out of 11 free throws.
Naturally, the glorified intrasquad scrimmage featured plenty of highlights and smiles from coaches and players alike. Several Tigers had highlight-reel dunks, including an impressive fast break dunk by Zaire Taylor over J.T. Tiller and a thunderous alley-oop finish by freshman Laurence Bowers, who finished with 15 points for the black team.
"He's going to be our highlight guy," Anderson said.
The Missouri fans got their first taste of Marcus Denmon and the rest of the Tigers' new faces tonight, and they didn't disappoint. The seven newcomers combined for over half of the total points for the night, including 77 from the four guards. Anderson was all smiles after the game, ready to get back to practice and continue working towards next Thursday's exhibition opener against Lincoln (Mo.).