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Missouri bests West Virginia

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Jordan Clarkson scored 25 points and Jabari Brown added 18 to help Missouri defeat West Virginia 80-71 Thursday night in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Missouri shot 53 percent from the floor, but its defense limited West Virginia to making 42 percent of its shots. The Mountaineers entered the game averaging 85.1 points and shooting nearly 50 percent, but only made eight of 29 shots in the first half.

Missouri (8-0) extended its national-best home-court winning streak to 23 games and has won 78 consecutive games at Mizzou Arena against non-conference competition.

Juwan Staten scored 16 points, while Gary Browne and Terry Henderson added 14 for West Virginia (6-3), which fell to 0-3 against power conference teams.

Missouri scored the first nine points and led throughout as West Virginia never established a rhythm until the end of the night. The Mountaineers also averaged 10 3-pointers per game before Thursday, but only converted one of their first 14 attempts until Browne's make with 7:51 remaining. They finished four for 19.

Earnest Ross added 16 points for the Tigers, who have won their first eight games for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Clarkson, Brown and Ross have combined for nearly two-thirds of the Tigers' scoring this season.

Missouri also out-rebounded West Virginia 40-32 after the Mountaineers grabbed 62 boards against Loyola Maryland, their most since 64 in a contest against Radford in 1992. West Virginia had been averaging four more boards per game than its opponents.

The Mountaineers used a 9-2 run to pull within 27-20 with 4:36 remaining in the first half, but Missouri countered with an identical run to take a 36-22 halftime lead. After Devin Williams opened the second half with a layup, Missouri then scored the next five points.

West Virginia again narrowed the lead late in the second half, as Staten capped a 17-5 run with a layup with 1:45 left to narrow the Mountaineers' deficit to 73-64. After two free throws by the Tigers' Wes Clark, Rémi Dibo drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:10 left to make the score 75-67.

But the Mountaineers couldn't get any closer.

Staten (16) and Eron Harris (8) combined for 24 points after only scoring four total in the first half. The duo previously averaged nearly 37 for West Virginia, which has also lost to Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. Coaches picked the team to finish seventh in the 10-team Big 12 prior to the season as the team lost its final seven games last year and finished 13-19.

Missouri's new chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, attended the game and was introduced to fans in the first half. He then went into the stands to shake hands and pose for pictures with students. Currently the president of Texas A&M, Loftin will begin his new job as Missouri's leader on Feb. 1.

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