COLUMBIA — Leo Lyons' dominance Saturday afternoon started with the opening tip.
Prairie View A&M's 6-foot-7 forward, Darnell Hugee, didn't even bother leaving his feet to contest the 6-foot-9 Missouri forward on the jump ball, and the Panthers never found an answer for Lyons' superior size and athleticism in an 86-65 Tiger victory at Mizzou Arena.
"I think he enforced his will," coach Mike Anderson said. "Our guys got the ball to him. He got some offensive rebounds, and that ignited him sometimes on the defensive end."
Lyons scored a game-high 21 points, including 15 in the first half. He also had eight rebounds and an impressive block to thwart a baseline drive to the basket. Hugee, who scored 23 points Wednesday at UCLA, got into foul trouble early and was held to four points in 11 minutes before he fouled out with 9:46 to play.
The undersized Panthers were quick to double team Missouri's big men, especially in the second half, but the frontcourt battle was still dominated by Missouri. The Tigers outrebounded Prairie View 47-35, and forward DeMarre Carroll finished with 19 points.
Lyons' productivity tailed off a bit in the second, when he missed a couple of layups and had the ball stripped near the basket during a 2-on-1 fast break. But for the most part, Anderson liked what he saw from one of his key senior leaders.
"I think Leo was a case of just maturity and doing what is expected of him," Anderson said. "Hopefully it's a sign that he's ready to do those things for us, because he's very gifted."
After the Panthers jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first four minutes, Lyons scored six points during a key 12-2 run that gave Missouri a lead they never relinquished. On an afternoon where seven players made their debut in front of 5,463 at Mizzou Arena, it was Lyons' two powerful dunks in the first half that drew some of the largest cheers.
"This year, I came in with a new confidence and I'm more consistent," Lyons said. "That's what I'm trying to do right now."