COLUMBIA — On Thursday night in the Missouri basketball team's game against Lincoln, Tigers freshman point guard Miguel Paul was a totally different player than he was a week earlier in the Black-and-Gold game.
In that game, Paul committed eight turnovers and connected on only three of his 10 shots.
Missouri coach Mike Anderson said that Paul needed to relax.
Paul said he was also slowed by a foot injury in the Black-and-Gold game. He was healthy against Lincoln, and it showed.
"It was a lot easier today," Paul said. "(In the Black-and-Gold game), I was trying to press on scoring, but tonight, I was just having fun."
Paul was part of a group of substitutes that came in with a little less than 15 minutes to go in the first half and blew the game open for Missouri. Paul scored six points in 9 minutes in the first half to help spark a 21-6 run for the Tigers. He committed just one turnover.
"It was good to see Miguel go out there and get some of those things out of his system, the nerves," Anderson said.
Anderson told Paul and freshmen Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Laurence Bowers they would go into the game around the 15-minute mark. Before entering the game, Paul tried to pump up his teammates.
"I was sitting by Laurence and Kimmie, and I told them as soon as that 15-minute mark when we come in, we are going to run and press," Paul said.
Anderson went with experience in the starting lineup. Seniors Leo Lyons, Matt Lawrence and DeMarre Carroll and juniors Zaire Taylor and J.T. Tiller were on the floor to begin the game. Missouri's offense sputtered, leading 8-4 after four minutes.
"The guys that started off, they kind of started off slow," Anderson said. "The guys on the bench brought some energy."
Missouri's bench players scored 46 of the team's 97 points. Denmon scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Sophomore forward Justin Safford had 8 points, including two powerful dunks.
When the first unit came back into the game, they struggled again, which Anderson blamed on stiffness.
Paul said that he and his freshmen teammates had extra motivation because it was their first game at the college level.
"The first group, they were a little laid back, because I guess they were kind of bored, but it was new for us," Paul said.
On several occasions, Anderson substituted all five players on the floor at once, and 12 Tigers played at least 10 minutes.
"When one line would go out and the next would come in, we wanted to keep the energy level at the same or even take it up another level," Denmon said.
Anderson is excited about Missouri's depth entering the season. He said that having so many players that can contribute spurs competition for minutes.
"The thing about the exhibition game is that it gives you an opportunity to play some guys," Anderson said. "I like this team."