Linas Kleiza is getting used to defenders swarming him.
He isn’t as used to starting the game on the bench.
Missouri coach Quin Snyder rearranged the starting lineup Sunday against Murray State, and Kleiza, the Tigers’ leading scorer, found himself on the bench at the beginning of the Tigers’ 59-55 win at Mizzou Arena.
Freshman forward Marshall Brown started in Kleiza’s place as Snyder opted for a stronger defensive lineup.
“Sometimes it takes that for kids to know how determined you’re as a staff to get that type of performance and that type of effort on that defensive end,” Snyder said. “I don’t care how good you are, everybody’s got to do that, and I was really proud of Linas (Sunday).
“He accepted that. He came in, I thought he did a good job of handling some of the adversity, whether it’s not having the ball go in or picking up some early fouls. There was a time for him when that might have thrown him off for the rest of the game and (Sunday) he really hung in there.”
Kleiza first checked into the game with 16 minutes and 25 second left in the first half, but only played eight minutes after picking up his second foul midway through the half. In his near seven minute absence, Murray State went on a 15-2 run.
Kleiza did give the Tigers a 27-26 halftime lead when he checked in with 6.7 seconds left and hit a jump shot from the free-throw line with under a second left.
Kleiza finished the game with nine points and was 4-for-10 from the field. He added seven rebounds and turned the ball over five times.
POINT OF CONCERN:Junior Jimmy McKinney started the game at point and freshman Jason Horton joined Kleiza on the bench at the start of the game for the first time this season.
Spencer Laurie was in street clothes and missed his third straight game with a high right ankle sprain he suffered in practice Nov. 21.
Horton didn’t score and had two turnovers.
Snyder said Laurie’s presence is missed.
“Spencer has a calming presence on our team,” Snyder said. “When you tell him to do something he does it and for a coach that’s invaluable.”
FREE NOT FALLING:The Tigers shot better from behind the arc than from the free-throw line against Murray State.
Missouri was 9-for-23 from the line for 39 percent and 8-for-20 from behind the arch for 40 percent.
Kleiza missed all four of his free-throw attempts and was 1-for-5 from behind the arc.
“I think some of that has to do with where we are mentally,” Snyder said. “When things aren’t breaking your way, say a turnover or you get in foul trouble or we’re missing shots, you get to the line and you’re not as confident and dialed in as you need to be.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME:Sunday marked the first game in Mizzou Arena after the name was changed from Paige Sports Arena on Friday.
The change came following allegations of that Paige Laurie, the daughter of donors Bill and Nancy Laurie, cheated on schoolwork at the University of Southern California.