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Lyons rebounds after time on bench

Saturday, January 31, 2009 | 9:14 p.m. CST; updated 10:16 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 31, 2009
Missouri senior Leo Lyons prepares for a free throw at the Missouri vs. Baylor University men's basketball game Saturday. The Tigers won the game 89-72.

COLUMBIA — Leo Lyons rewarded Missouri coach Mike Anderson for trusting his instincts.

Anderson said he didn't decide to put Lyons into the starting lineup until he woke up Saturday morning. It probably didn't hurt that Lyons had 13 points and five rebounds compared to starter Keith Ramsey's two points and two rebounds in Wednesday's loss to Kansas State, even though Lyons played fewer minutes.

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Either way, Lyons, a senior forward, took full advantage. He dominated Baylor for a career-high 30 points in Missouri's 89-72 victory Saturday at Mizzou Arena.

"I knew I had to do something special," Lyons said. "I just worked hard, and when he gave me another opportunity, I just went out there and played my heart out."

It's not the first time in his career that Lyons has responded well to being benched. Last season, Lyons didn't start for 10 straight games, though he did come off the bench in nine of them. When he was finally put back into the lineup, he averaged 21.5 points and 12.8 rebounds per game in the final four games of the regular season.

"Last year he had a stretch where he played some unbelievable basketball," Anderson said. "Let's hope that's this period right here."

The career high in points wasn't the only milestone Lyons reached Saturday. With his 28th point, he became the 38th player in Missouri history to reach 1,000 points, joining teammate DeMarre Carroll.

"I didn't know I was that close, and I'm pretty sure that nobody probably thought I was going to score 30, so they didn't tell me," Lyons said.

Saturday's game looked just like some of the Tigers' wins early in the season, with Lyons and Carroll dominating Baylor in the post. With Lyons struggling, Carroll has been depended on lately, and he was grateful for the help.

"If (opponents) have to worry about him so much, then they lose sight of me," Carroll said. "Then they have to worry about me and lose sight of him."

While Lyons reclaimed his starting spot, Ramsey continued his drop in productivity that started at Kansas State. Ramsey didn't score in 7 minutes against Baylor. Previously, against Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, Ramsey helped keep Lyons on the bench with his three top scoring games of the season.


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