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Lawrence adds versatility off the bench

Thursday, February 19, 2009 | 7:57 p.m. CST
Since his role changed, Missouri senior guard Matt Lawrence has focused on adding more to his game than just his jump shot. In the Feb. 9 upset of Kansas, he showed off his increased versatility. Lawrence scored just four points, but he had three steals, two assists and one huge offensive rebound.

COLUMBIA — For the past 10 games, Missouri senior Matt Lawrence has come off the bench.

Over that span the Tigers are 9-1, and Lawrence has played an important reserve role.

Saturday's game

Missouri (22-4, 9-2 in Big 12) at Colorado (9-16, 1-10)

When: Feb. 21 at 12:30 p.m.

Where: Boulder, Colorado

TV: KMIZ/Channel 17

Radio: Tiger Radio Network KBXR/102.3 FM



"He's like our sixth man, and what an important sixth man," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said.

Lawrence was an inconsistent scorer off the bench. He led the team in scoring twice, but also scored six or less six times. He averages eight points off the bench, compared to 9.6 as a starter.

But since his role changed, Lawrence has focused on adding more to his game than just his jump shot.

"You can see him now embracing that role and doing some other things," Anderson said.

In the Feb. 9 upset of Kansas, he showed off his increased versatility. Lawrence scored just four points but he had three steals, two assists and one huge offensive rebound.

Lawrence grabbed the ball off the board and placed it in the basket with 3:38 left in the game. The basket started a 7-0 run by the Tigers that tied the game.

He has accepted his new role with a positive attitude and continued to act as a leader.

"I think that Matt's role has definitely increased," guard J.T. Tiller said. "He can see what's going on on the court in the beginning and what the other team is doing, and he can also talk to the players on the bench and keep their mind on the game. When he comes in, he brings that leadership role on the court."

Lawrence's first game coming off the bench was the Tigers' home opener against Colorado. Missouri travels to Boulder to take on the Buffaloes on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Colorado is just 1-10 in the Big 12, but it has shown signs of improvement. Six of the Buffaloes' past seven losses have come by five points or less or in overtime.


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