It was a long night for Missouri guard Jimmy McKinney.
Junior Randy Pulley did not suit up for Missouri in its 85-76 win against Inter Hoop on Monday at Hearnes Center, because he has not been certified for competition, the Tigers said in a release.
As a result, McKinney played 33 minutes as the Tigers’ primary ball handler.
“It was very difficult,” McKinney said. “You get tired because you’ve got to check the other guys that may be a little bit quicker than you, but I’m going to buckle down and play hard every possession.”
McKinney had 12 points and seven assists, including a dazzling set up for Rickey Paulding. With the Tigers leading 71-44, McKinney stole the ball and led a 2-1 fast break with Paulding trailing. McKinney flipped the ball off the backboard to Paulding, who dunked it with two hands.
“I think he’s a good (guard), and I think he’s becoming a great one,” coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s a process. Jimmy’s willing to do whatever we need him to do, and the more comfortable he gets handling the ball, the easier that position will become.”
Pulley, a transfer from Barton County Community College, will be out of action for an unknown length of time.
“I hope it’s sooner than later,” Snyder said. “It’s really not in our hands, and it’s not something I can comment on accurately.”
With McKinney at the point, the Tigers had many transition points and moved the ball well, shooting 52 percent from the field. If he is asked to play 40 minutes a game as the point guard, McKinney said he would be prepared.
“Whatever it takes for this team to win and to be successful, that’s what I’m going to do.” McKinney said.
When he needed a break, senior Josh Kroenke spent time as the point guard. Although Kroenke only had one assist, he said he felt comfortable.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Kroenke said. “I hadn’t played it in a couple years. The first couple times down the court, I was kind of nervous. Once I got in a rhythm of being a point guard again, I was fine.”
LITHUANIAN LINK: Freshman Linas Kleiza, a newcomer from Rockville, Md., saw some familiar faces – at least on the bench – against Inter Hoop’s Lithuanian professional club team from Vilnius, Lithuania.
Kleiza, from Kaunas, Lithuania, led the Lithuanian junior national team to second at the World Junior Championships in July. In eight games, Kleiza averaged 29.1 points.
Kleiza said he hopes to claim an Olympic Gold Medal in basketball for his home country, but Snyder has his eyes set on Kleiza’s domination in America now.
“My goal for Linas is not just be a great player in his country, but to be a great player in the world and our country,” Snyder said. “He is assimilating himself into our team. We have high expectations for Linas.”
LAURIE IN LIMBO: Snyder said the team wouldn’t make any decision on freshman Spencer Laurie red-shirting this year until after the exhibition season.
Laurie did not suit up for Monday’s game.