COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou Men’s Basketball (3-2) used balanced scoring, toughness in the paint and a 45-point second half to secure an 84-60 victory over Northwestern State (2-3) on Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena. In the first of a six-game home stand, five different Tigers recorded double-digit point totals as head coach Kim Anderson‘s squad outscored the Demons, 48-32 in the paint.
Sophomore guard K.J. Walton (Indianapolis, Ind.) came off the bench to lead the team in scoring for the second-straight game with 19 points (6-of-10 FG, 7-of-7 FT). Walton was able to slash to the rim all game, while also shooting a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Walton’s energy extended into the defensive side of the ball as he set a new career high with four steals. Sophomore forward Kevin Puryear (Blue Springs, Mo.) had his best shooting performance of the season, shooting 5-of-8 from the field to provide 11 points for Mizzou. Puryear also recorded six rebounds and two assists in the victory.
The freshman duo of forward Willie Jackson (Cleveland, Ohio) and guard Frankie Hughes (Cleveland, Ohio) both contributed 11 points as they continued to impress early in their college careers. Jackson led the Tigers with seven rebounds, while Hughes drilled a pair of three-pointers in the win. Sophomore guard Cullen VanLeer (Pacific, Mo.) scored 10 points and grabbed a career-high five rebounds for Mizzou. He hit two threes in the game, giving him at least one three pointer made in each of Mizzou’s five games this season. Sophomore guard Terrence Phillips (Orange County, Calif.) led the team with a career-high eight assists, including seven in the second half.
Mizzou showed their depth in the first half, getting points from all nine players who saw action, outscoring Northwestern State 20-4 in points off the bench. Mizzou came out with an emphasis on the lane, scoring 22 points in the paint in the opening frame. With a 24-23 lead at the 4:52 mark, the Tigers went on a 10-0 run behind seven-straight points from Walton. At the end of the half Mizzou led, 39-27.
The second half saw plenty of fast-paced action from both teams as Mizzou scored 18 fast break points. None were more impressive than a monstrous slam dunk by freshman forward Mitchell Smith (Van Buren, Ark.) off a silky pass from Phillips with 6:23 on the clock to put Mizzou ahead by 29, its largest lead of the game.