If Missouri (10-2) is going to enter the Big 12 Conference season with momentum, it will have to play a better first half against Mississippi State than it did on Saturday against Southern.
Despite leading 33-25 at halftime, the Tigers seemed to struggle at times. They turned the ball over 10 times and had only five assists. Still, they managed to gain an eight-point advantage, a lead they would eventually stretch into a 29-point rout. But it’s unlikely Missouri will be able to do the same against a team that isn’t 1-11 like Southern.
MSU enters tonight’s game at 8-5 and, before its loss on Saturday to 2006 Final Four participant George Mason, was on a seven-game winning streak. Being a Southeastern Conference team, it will also give Missouri another game against a team from a major conference, only the fourth so far this season.
“They’re very athletic. I recruited a lot of those guys while I was down in the South,” Tigers coach Mike Anderson said. “They’re very, very good.
“Coach (Rick) Stansbury does a good job.”
Some of the athletic players Anderson referred to were twin guards Reginald and Richard Delk. Reginald Delk is averaging 8.8 points per game while his brother Richard Delk is averaging 7.4. The Bulldogs also have three players averaging over 10 points per game, with leading scorer Jamont Gordon averaging 15.3.
Perhaps the most recognizable name on the Bulldogs is freshman guard Ben Hansbrough. A native of Poplar Bluff, Hansbrough has moved into the starting lineup and is averaging a team-high 3.8 assists per game. Hansbrough is also the younger brother of North Carolina All-American Tyler Hansbrough.
Tonight’s game also is in the middle of a stretch of six games in 15 days for Missouri. Instead of coming off an 11-day break, Missouri will be just two days removed from it’s last game.
“Of course, coming back, they’re going to try to do exactly what you tell them to do,” Anderson said after Saturday’s game. “You see a lot of thinking out there.”
1 FROM 100: With a win tonight, Anderson would win his 100th game as a head coach. His first 89 wins came at Alabama-Birmingham, a tenure that ended last season with 24 wins by the Blazers. In four-plus years as a head coach, Anderson has a 99-43 record for a .697 winning percentage.
BIG 11: Stefhon Hannah now leads the NCAA with 3.9 steals per game. He is also 11th on Missouri’s all-time single-season steals list with 47, just 29 away from Lynn Hardy’s record of 76, set in 1987. Hannah has only played 12 games, while it took Hardy 34 games to get 76.