MU’s top shooter nursing injury

Friday, December 29, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:34 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

After guard Matt Lawrence missed practice Thursday, Missouri coach Mike Anderson said Lawrence is questionable for Saturday’s game against Southern University.

Lawrence injured his right hip during practice Wednesday. He lost his balance in mid-air while trying to block a shot, causing him to land on his hip. Instead of participating in team scrimmages Thursday, Lawrence spent most of the practice with a bag of ice covering his injured hip. He did, however, take part in some shooting drills, as well as some light jogging.

“He’s hurting right now,” Anderson said. “We’ll see what takes place (today). Between now and game time, we’ll find out a little bit more.”

Anderson said the decision about Lawrence’s status might not be made until moments before tipoff. Lawrence, who said the injury was not anything serious, seemed to already have his mind made up.

“I’m probably going to play,” Lawrence said. “I just missed practice because it’s a little sore. I’m going to practice (today) and play Saturday most likely.”

If Lawrence isn’t able to play against Southern, Missouri (9-2) will be missing its best outside shooter (49.2 percent from three-point range) and second-leading scorer at 12 points per game. By not allowing opposing teams to play help defense, his shooting ability also opens up lanes for Missouri guards to penetrate.

“He brings a guy to our team that can shoot the basketball and extend the defense,” Anderson said.

Lawrence’s potential absence would also test the depth of the Tigers’ bench, which Anderson considers the strength of his team. Lawrence’s starting position could be filled by a number of players, including Glen Dandridge, Keon Lawrence or J.T. Tiller.

With Southern’s season off to a slow start at 1-10, Anderson might not want to risk further injuring one of his starters against a team the Tigers should beat whether Matt Lawrence plays or not. Another option for him is to bring Matt Lawrence off the bench to try limit his minutes. That choice would give him some rest for Tuesday against Mississippi State, Missouri’s last game before Big 12 Conference play begins against Iowa State on Jan. 6.

“(Matt Lawrence) wasn’t able to go today. That’s kind of a blow to our team at this point,” Anderson said. “At the same time, hopefully we’ll have some guys that can pick up the slack. … It’s going to allow somebody else an opportunity to get some of those minutes if he’s not able to go.”

GOOD KNIGHT: Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight downplayed the importance of breaking Dean Smith’s Division I men’s basketball record of 879 wins Thursday night after the Red Raiders lost 74-66 to UNLV.

Anderson has a different view of the milestone, though, calling the record a “tremendous feat.” More than the record, Anderson stressed Knight’s impact on basketball.

“I bet if you ask him, it’s not necessarily about the wins and the losses, but more so the amount of lives he’s touched,” Anderson said. “He’s touched a lot of lives. ... He’s had a lot of life lessons taught to student-athletes that have come play for him.”

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