COLUMBIA — DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons have no problem leading by example.
The two seniors propelled Missouri's men's basketball team to a dominating 93-66 victory over California on Sunday in front of a season-high 8,310 fans at Mizzou Arena. Lyons and Carroll scored 18 of Missouri's first 20 points, including the first nine of a decisive 18-0 run. Both played just 22 minutes and shot better than 65 percent from the field.
"They took our size that we've had, that we've maybe played with, out of the game," California coach Mike Montgomery said. "We really couldn't play with those guys."
Lyons finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Carroll had a game-high 19 points to go with his six rebounds. Defensively, the two forwards were impressive against the Golden Bears' 6-foot-8 Jamal Boykin and 7-footer Jordan Wilkes. The two post players combined for just nine points, and Lyons and Carroll weren't even whistled for a foul in the game's first 17 minutes.
"We made it tough to score around the basket and that's what I like to see," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "They may get past the first and second wave, but when they come into the basket, we get guys, whether they block the shot or deflect it or guys come down with it, touching the basketball."
Even when Carroll and Lyons left the floor around the 14-minute mark, the Tigers' bench maintained the energy created by its starters. Missouri's lead was as big as 42-18 before California rallied to cut the deficit to 11 at halftime.
"I think a lot of credit goes to our seniors," Anderson said. "I think the leadership is very evident. You can see it out there with Leo, DeMarre, even Matt Lawrence."
In the Tigers' come-from-behind win against USC earlier in the year, Carroll carried the team when it was struggling offensively. He got his teammates going again Sunday when he scored seven points in less than a minute and a half to spark an 11-0 run after California had made the score 48-38 early in the second half.
Missouri's intensity showed up in the stat sheet as well as on the floor. The Tigers forced 20 California turnovers and outrebounded the Golden Bears 48-38. Twenty of those rebounds came on the offensive end.
"(Rebounding) is just a mind-set, you go into the game, you want to do it or you don't," Carroll said. "Like coach said, rebounding's personal."
A few times in the first half, Missouri guards passed up decent shots to get better ones for Carroll and Lyons. On one play in the first half, Lawrence jumped into the air to steal a pass just outside the 3-point line. Before his feet hit the ground, he sent the ball to Leo Lyons underneath the basket. Even though Lyons missed the shot, he was fouled and got two points at the free-throw line.
"We were laughing because Matt just told me I was an assist-killer because he was feeding me a bunch of layups and I didn't make them," Lyons said with a smile.
Either Carroll or Lyons has been the leading scorer for Missouri every game this season, and the two are averaging a combined 36.6 points per game.
"These guys are slowly, but surely, taking the ownership of the team," Anderson said.
With Missouri comfortably leading most of the way, the Tigers' bench took advantage of some extra minutes. Kim English made four-of-six 3-pointers en route to 16 points, and Marcus Denmon scored seven of his 14 points in a three-minute span in the first half. It was the second straight game in double figures for the two freshman guards.
Missouri improved to 7-1 on the season with its fifth consecutive win. The Tigers will have nearly a full week of rest before they host Murray State on Saturday.