Missouri coach Quin Snyder openly criticized his team’s lack of intensity in the starting minutes of last week’s loss to Davidson College.
The Tigers apparently heeded Snyder’s words, jumping out to 7-2 lead against Creighton on the strength of several hustle plays.
Senior Jason Conley and junior Kevin Young both dove on the floor after loose balls, and Missouri forced three consecutive Creighton turnovers in the first five minutes.
The Tigers, however, could not maintain the intensity. Creighton scored 11 unanswered points during one stretch and closed the half on a 21-6 run, on its way to a 44-27 halftime lead. The Tigers did not start the second half as auspiciously as the first. Missouri failed to score a field goal for the first six minutes of the half, and trailed by as many as 30 at one point.
BRING THE FUNK: Junior guard Nate Funk was virtually unstoppable for the Bluejays. Funk was the regional MVP of the Guardians Classic, and he continued his stellar play in the semifinal round. He started on a tear, shooting 6-of-7 from the field for 16 points in the first half.
“I just got a couple of open looks and I got into a rhythm,” Funk said. “Any good shooter would have done that.”
Funk led all scorers with 21 points.
STILL IN THE DOG HOUSE: After serving a three-game suspension for participating in an unsanctioned summer league, junior center Jeffery Ferguson was back in the lineup for the Tigers, although no one seemed to notice.
Ferguson started on the bench and didn’t enter the game until 11 minutes remained in the first half, behind freshmen Kalen Grimes, Marshall Brown and Glen Dandridge.
Ferguson played three minutes in the half. Ferguson finally got into the mix when he replaced an exhausted Kevin Young in the second half. For the game, he played 14 minutes and scored six points.
TAKING HIS LUMPS: Sophomore guard Thomas Gardner was forced to leave the game after being knocked to the ground while committing a blocking foul with 16 minutes left in the game. Gardner complained of pain in his jaw.
He returned three minutes later after being treated on the bench. It is the second time this season Gardner had to leave a game because of an injury, but was able to return.
“I had a lump in my throat,” Snyder said. “You never want to see a kid go down.”
TWISTS AND TURNS: Sophomore point guard Spencer Laurie missed Tuesday’s game with a right high ankle sprain. He twisted his ankle in practice on Sunday. He is listed as day-to-day and his status for the game Wednesday against Houston is uncertain.