COLUMBIA — Missouri started cold on Monday night, mirroring the frigid temperatures outside Mizzou Arena.
Senior forward Leo Lyons admitted the team was looking forward to traveling to sunny San Juan for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
"Puerto Rico is a lovely place, and everybody wanted to go," Lyons said. "The weather, it's cold here and everybody was thinking about it."
Settling for jump shots in the first half, the Tigers led by just six at the intermission. Missouri found some focus in the second half, and the Tigers came out of the locker room attacking the basket.
The difference was clear.
Missouri scored 39 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half and built a 29 point lead. The Tigers never looked back, leaving a winded Chattanooga team in the dust on their way to a 103-75 victory.
"That's our strength with guys of size," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "At times we are a hard matchup, and I think we utilized that to our advantage and we got them in foul trouble."
In the second half, Lyons scored 12 points in nine minutes and DeMarre Carroll scored 12 points in ten minutes. Lyons finished with 25 points and Carroll tallied 21.
The Tigers shot 42 percent in the first half and 56 percent in the second. They had more assists and less turnovers in the second half.
Once the Tigers established an inside presence, it opened the floor for shooters like senior guard Matt Lawrence, who scored 16 points in 16 minutes, including four 3-pointers.
"It was good to see him knock down some shots because shooting is all about confidence," Anderson said. "But again, Matt does a lot more than just shoot."
Anderson didn't make any changes to his strategy at the half. He gave the credit for the Tigers' second-half surge to the frantic pace of the game. Missouri scored 16 fastbreak points compared to four by Chattanooga.
"I always say maybe for about three quarters teams may stay with us with the tempo that we want to play," Anderson said. "But I thought in the last 10 minutes, they struggled from the free throw line and they shot 41 percent (from the floor) in the game."
Lyons and Carroll, who were Honorable Mention All-Big 12 preseason selections, have been the Tigers' two leading scorers in both of the team's games.
Carroll and Lyons are roommates, and the two compete to outscore each other. Carroll beat Lyons earlier in the day at a basketball video game. The virtual loss motivated Lyons to score more points than Carroll in the real game.
"DeMarre tries to outscore me a lot, so I try to score more than he does most of the time and get more rebounds than he does," Lyons said. "It's fun. Me and him just go out there and compete and it works for the best for us."
The win over Chattanooga was technically the opening round game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, though it was played at Mizzou Arena and had no impact on the bracket. Missouri's next game of the tournament will be at noon Thursday against Xavier in San Juan.
The Tigers left at 4 a.m. today for Puerto Rico to prepare for Thursday's game. The competition will be much stiffer at the tournament than it has been in the Tigers' first two contests. Missouri could play No. 13 Memphis or No. 18 USC.