COLUMBIA — He fired off two 3-pointers. A few moments later, he sprinted past the defense for a dunk, drawing a raucous reaction from the crowd.
Laurence Bowers had a similar sequence of plays in the Missouri men's basketball team's game against Alcorn State on Tuesday night and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Saturday. The only difference between this game and the season opener was that Bowers, a senior forward, was shooting threes instead of deep twos.
Bowers finished the night making 3-of-4 3-pointers in a 14-point effort in Tigers' 91-54 victory at Mizzou Arena. Against SIU-Edwardsville, he scored 20 points but didn't even attempt a 3-pointer.
Bower's season-ending knee injury last year gave him the opportunity during rehab to work on extending his range. Bowers spent long hours and nights trying to perfect his jumpers while nursing his knee.
"Whenever you do something so much, it becomes repetition," Bowers said. "I was just shooting after practice all the time, just putting an extra emphasis to make a three."
Todor Pandov, the Missouri director of basketball athletic performance, said building Bower's jump shot was no easy task. Extending Bowers's range began shortly after his injury.
Coaches put Bowers on a chair next to a basket and had him shoot countless amounts of shots. When he was healthy enough to stand a couple weeks later, they had him shoot more.
"Basically he developed a great shot, but it was a lot of work, a lot of shooting," Pandov said.
Tediously practicing long-range shooting has already paid off for Bowers He shot eight 3-pointers last year and did not make any of them.
The deep ball makes the veteran Tiger much more dangerous. Missouri coach Frank Haith has repeatedly praised Bowers' offensive play. Pandov said Bowers already had solid foundations, and adding a perimeter shot to his repertoire would make him an even more complete.
"He is a very talented kid," Pandov said. "He's a multifunctional talent. He's great with his hands. His court awareness is very good, so he can catch the ball in any situation and know where the basket is."
Haith said his 3-point shooting gives the team better spacing and flow.
"When he's consistently knocking down shots, you people have to guard him," Haith said. "It makes your offense better. When you have four guys out there as opposed to two or three who can shoot the three, it makes you tougher to guard."
The Tigers hope Bowers' improved range helps them overcome losing some of last season's talented 3-point shooters.
"We lost a sharpshooter in Kim English," Bowers said. "I would never say I am the sharpshooter Kim English was, but I'm going to continue to work and whenever the opportunity is there, I'm going to shoot it with confidence."