COLUMBIA — Transfer forward DeMarre Carroll lived up to his hype in his first official game in a Missouri uniform, scoring 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds in Missouri’s 87-76 win over Central Michigan on Monday at Mizzou Arena.
“His energy is contagious with our basketball team,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “He’s a slasher and gets the extra shot on the offensive end and defensively. He is one of those versatile guys that can move.”
It was an unusual start for Carroll, whose first two official shots were missed 3-pointers. He came into form shortly after.The 6-foot-8 forward was tenacious on the boards, with all eight rebounds and 17 of his points coming in the first half.
The only two shots Carroll missed all game were the two 3-pointers.
“I was wide open and (coach) said that’s what they were baiting me to do,” Carroll said. “But me, in my head, I was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to take them because I’m wide open.’ But he kind of settled me down and I got back to my game.”
Carroll was one of Missouri’s few bright spots in the first half. The Tigers trailed early before taking a 43-38 lead into the break.
Missouri upped the intensity in the second half, even with Carroll sitting out for big chunks of time with foul trouble. The Tigers locked down on defense and started taking advantage of easy scoring opportunities in the paint.
Forward Leo Lyons filled in during Carroll’s absences in the second half, scoring 12 of his 18 points and grabbing all five rebounds after halftime.
Carroll fouled out with 3:23 left in the game but received a standing ovation from the 5,042 in attendance.
Guard Stefhon Hannah and Keon Lawrence scored 10 points a piece for Missouri, and Lawrence added six rebounds as well.
“It’s not going to be always our night,” Lawrence said of Missouri’s guards. “Our shots some nights just aren’t going to fall, we’ve just got to go do other things. I went and got some rebounds.”
Each of Missouri’s 11 scholarship players saw playing time, and all but forwards Justin Safford and Vaidotas Volkus scored.
The win advances Missouri (1-0) to the second round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic against Fordham at 7 tonight.
As the regional host, Missouri is favored to reach the semifinals Monday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. But Fordham (2-0) presents a formidable challenge.
“They are a very good basketball team, very physical,” Anderson said. “They are an attacking team.”
Led by All-Atlantic 10 Conference players Bryant Dunston and Marcus Stout, Fordham brings back all five starters from the team that finished 18-12 last season, just missing out on an NIT bid.
About 300 people came to see Fordham’s 76-66 win over Central Missouri in Monday’s early game at Mizzou Arena. Dunston and Stout combined for 42 points with Dunston adding 10 rebounds.
Tremaine Luellen led Central Missouri with 17 points.
Central Missouri (0-1) and Central Michigan (0-1) will play a consolation game at 4 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.
“We have to play the game that we want to play,” Anderson said about MU’s game against Fordham. “I think they may want to play that way too, but basketball is about advantages and disadvantages. Their advantage is probably post, and we’ve got to figure out some ways to keep the ball out of (Dunston’s) hands.”