COLUMBIA — After taking a few days off from basketball for Christmas, the Missouri women's basketball team started quickly in their game Tuesday against Southeast Missouri State.
The Tigers jumped out to a 29-2 lead and cruised for a 60-31 win.
"I think our team likes to play games. They don't like practice too much," Stein said. "I think they were excited to play."
The schedule gave the Tigers the opportunity to ease back into game action against a poor opponent. SEMO entered the game 4-7, including an 0-2 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Missouri had a week between its Dec. 21 game at Arkansas and the SEMO game. Stein gave the Tigers from the 22nd to the 25th to go home and spend time with family.
She asked the players to work out during their four days off, but she said their conditioning still suffered from the time away from the gym.
"You try to keep a kid away from pumpkin pie and momma's cooking and you're not going to win very many favors there," Stein said. "We didn't weigh them when they came back. We probably should have."
Once the break was over, the Tigers went right back to work. They had three difficult practices leading up to Monday's game. Senior guard Alyssa Hollins said playing SEMO was a welcomed escape from practice.
"We were happy to see each other again so it was just good to get rolling," Hollins said. "It didn't take much motivation."
If the time off did have a negative impact on the Tigers against SEMO, it wasn't until the second half. After shooting 52 percent in the first half, Missouri ran out of gas. The Tigers shot 28 percent in the second half and scored just 20 points.
"I felt like our conditioning level needed to get back," Stein said.
The Tigers need to improve get back in shape quickly because they are just 12 days away from their Big 12 Conference opener against No. 3 Texas A&M on Jan. 10 at Mizzou Arena.