When he isn’t shooting well, Matt Lawrence says he tries to play more of a “complete game.” That means he has to rebound, play smart defense, and try to set up his teammates for easier shots.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma State, Lawrence did all of that, and also made five 3-pointers. Lawrence’s 15 points, plus Keon Lawrence’s 18 points and eight rebounds, helped Missouri defeat the No. 18 Cowboys 75-64 on Saturday. It is the first win for Missouri (16-9, 5-7 Big 12) in Stillwater, Okla. since Feb. 13, 1996. The loss is also Oklahoma State’s (19-7, 5-6 Big 12) first at home this season.
“This is probably one of our biggest wins of the season,” Matt Lawrence said. “I think we finally got to where we had a close game with four minutes left. We kind of got over that hump and were able to do things we weren’t able to do earlier in the season.”
Matt Lawrence mentioned two earlier road losses, those against Illinois and Kansas. Both came in atmospheres comparable to OSU’s Gallagher-Iba Arena, considered one of the most difficult for visiting teams in college basketball.
But when Missouri started to take control of the game in the second half, Matt Lawrence said the crowd actually helped the Tigers.
“We try to feed off opposing crowds,” Matt Lawrence said. “The boos are cheers for us, and they were booing a lot today, and we kind of fed off that and kind of used it as cheers for ourselves to motivate us.”
Eventually, the crowd of 14,044 quieted down from what Matt Lawrence called “a crazy atmosphere.” Silencing any arena is an accomplishment for a road team, but silencing Gallagher-Iba Arena might mean a little more.
“We knew when the crowd’s down, and we put them out of it,” Matt Lawrence said, “the team would fall soon after.”
Because of both Matt and Keon Lawrence, the Cowboys did fall. Keon Lawrence, who had one of his best performances of the season against Baylor on Wednesday, didn’t seem to be bothered by the crowd. Like he has for most of the season, Keon Lawrence seemed oblivious to his surroundings.
“I thought Keon set the tone and did a phenomenal job for a freshman,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “Can you imagine 18 (points) and 8 (rebounds) in 35 minutes on the road in a tough building — for a freshman? He created and made some big plays for us down the stretch.”
Matt Lawrence, however, had one of his worst games against Baylor. He shot 0-of-7 from 3-point range and didn’t look comfortable shooting. He seemed to rush his shots or take too much time releasing.
Those problems didn’t materialize on Saturday.
“Coming off a game like Baylor, probably my worst shooting game of the season, I needed to come out and knock some shots down early, get my rhythm going and extend the defense,” Matt Lawrence said. “Our guards were able to drive in there and give our big men easy shots, but also keep it themselves.”
Since Wednesday’s game, the Tigers also have gone through their first controversy of the season. Sophomore guard Michael Anderson Jr., who was arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, was not with the team after being suspended indefinitely for his actions. When asked about Anderson Jr., coach Anderson sounded more like a concerned father than an angry one.
“This one was for him,” coach Anderson said of his son. “He’s a great kid, and I want him to know that I love him.”