Andre Amos is a nice guy, but he doesn’t take insults lightly.
His incredible long-range shooting helped the Cougars beat Williams Baptist (Ark.) 89-46 on Thursday at The Arena of Southwell Complex. The Cougars’ win keeps them tied with Missouri Baptist for the American Midwest Conference lead. Missouri Baptist beat Harris Stowe State 119-82 on Thursday.
The Eagles (6-23, 1-9 AMC) started in a 2-3 zone defense, much to Amos’ delight. He scored the Cougars’ first nine points on three 3-pointers.
“As a shooter, when you see a zone you kind of take it as an insult,” he said. “Teams usually run zone when you can’t shoot. I kind of smile when I see a zone and try to get them out of it.”
Amos had a game-high 27 points, including 7-of-12 from the 3-point line. Several of his 3-point attempts were from well beyond the line. He said jokingly that his range is anywhere inside halfcourt.
“Seriously, I never look at the 3-point line,” he said. “I just shoot where the open shot is. I never know how deep I shoot them until we look at the tape.”
Ballard shines on defense
The No. 6 Cougars (27-2, 8-1 AMC) held Jeremy Bell, whose 25.5 points per game leads the nation, to 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Khamari Ballard, who is fourth in the nation with 22.2 points per game, guarded Bell for the majority of the contest. Ballard scored 17 but said he expended most of his energy defending Bell.
“He runs all the way around the floor,” he said. “You’ve just got to get up in him and contest his shots, and hopefully they won’t go in.”
The Cougars normally crisp ball movement was slightly stagnant in the opening minutes. The Cougars led 17-13 before outscoring the Eagles 30-9 in the final 9:10 of the first half.
Bob Burchard, the Cougars’ coach, said his team shared the ball much better once his guards’ started pushing it up the floor.
“I really thought their transition defense was a little suspect,” he said. “I just knew we were a lot deeper than they were, and we needed to put pressure on defensively and offensively.”
Fine-tuning the offense
Burchard said he also blamed himself for his team’s slow offensive start. He said he tinkered with his offensive sets too much in practice this week.
“If you’re tuning your car sometimes you get right to a good spot,” he said. “Then you say, ‘OK maybe I can a little more horsepower out of it,’ and then it starts to sputter. “
Burchard said he was concerned the Cougars might have a letdown against the Eagles after beating McKendree (Ill.) 83-79 on Saturday in front of 1,066, the largest Columbia College crowd this season.
“We want to finish strong, and this is probably the one game we had left where we probably had them overmatched,” he said. “So many times you look at the finish line and think you’ve already done it and slow up. When you slow up, the field catches you. Whoever sprints hardest to the finish line is going to come out on top.”
AMC title on the line
The Cougars play Missouri Baptist at 7 p.m. Thursday in Columbia with the AMC title likely on the line. The winner of the conference also hosts the conference tournament., which begins on March 9. The AMC tournament winner receives an automatic bid into the NAIA Championship Tournament.