Kalen Grimes’ definition of a freshmen is a little different than most.
“We just got a big blast off the bench because we were four fresh freshmen,” Grimes said. “We were fresh. Our legs felt good, and I think that’s what took us up.”
Missouri used a lineup with four first-year players early in the first half to jump start an 87-62 victory against Montana on Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
The freshmen, Grimes, Jason Horton, Glen Dandridge and Marshall Brown, played major minutes and contributed in big ways.
Grimes and Jason Horton scored career-highs, and Glen Dandridge tied a career-high.
Grimes, a 6-foot-8 center, had 12 points and four blocks in 14 minutes. He scored seven straight points late in the game, including an emphatic dunk on which he was fouled.
Grimes’ effort was capped with strong defense. With less than two minutes left, Grimes went for a steal at the top of the key, but missed the ball. He hustled back to the post and blocked Chris McKay’s shot.
Horton, a 6-1 guard, was 3-for-3 from the field and finished with eight points. He also took control of the ball, dishing out five assists with no turnovers.
Dandridge, a 6-6 guard, played 16 minutes and scored seven points, including five straight with the four freshmen on the floor in the first half.
“I think with those guys, any time you come into a program you have to learn not only what’s expected but what it takes, and I think those guys are learning the level they have to play at,” Missouri coach Quin Snyder said.
THREES OVER FREES:In the first half, 50 percent of Missouri’s field goal attempts were 3-pointers.
The Tigers shot 4-for-15 from behind the arc and 9-for-15 from inside it.
“I think guys were getting open looks,” McKinney said. “Even though we shot a lot of 3-pointers, when you get open looks like that, sometimes you’ve got to take it. I think in the first half, we had a lot of open shots but guys just couldn’t knock them down.”
The tendency for Missouri to settle for shots from behind the arc was seen in how many free throws it attempted in the first 12 minutes: none.
Linas Kleiza made the Tigers’ first free-throw attempt, completing a three-point play with 7 minutes and 26 seconds left in the first half.
FOUL TROUBLE:Senior Jason Conley played little more than a minute in the first half after picking up his second foul with 18:37 left.
Although he spent the rest of the half on the bench, Conley said the play of his replacements pleased him, especially the freshmen.
“For guys like me who are getting in foul trouble early, it makes me more confident in them to come off the bench and help,” Conley said.
Conley returned to action to start the second half, scoring his first basket with 18:22 left in the game.
He finished with eight points in 17 minutes.
ON THE BENCH:Missouri’s Jeffrey Ferguson and Spencer Laurie did not play against Montana.
Ferguson, a junior center, missed his second straight game with a torn meniscus in his right knee.
“There’s a hope that maybe it will heal and he’ll be able to come back soon,” Snyder said. “
“Otherwise there’s a possibility that he might need surgery, and in which case, he probably wouldn’t be back until February.”
Laurie, a sophomore point guard, could have played, but Snyder opted to rest him. Laurie has missed three games this season with a high right ankle sprain.
“Spencer’s tried so hard to get back that I felt like if we needed him at a spot he would have played, but I was glad we got to rest him,” Snyder said. “Hopefully this next week can get him at least closer to 100 percent. I think it’s going to be a while until he gets back to where he was.”