COLUMBIA | Missouri’s starting five bolted to a 15-3 lead on overwhelmed Truman State.
Mizzou’s second five -- sophomores Miguel Paul, Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers and Steve Moore were joined on the court by freshman Michael Dixon -- hit the Bulldogs with a 12-2 scoring run in the next 3 minutes, 34 seconds.
And in other breaking news in a totally expected 96-33 season-opening exhibition basketball victory: The intro video for Missouri’s new basketball season is kind of catchy, winding up with bold exhortations to:
“Defend the Ball!”
“Defend the Arena!”
“Defend the Title!”
As in, well, the basketball; The Tigers did that, forcing 28 Truman State turnovers and picking up 20 steals. As in Mizzou Arena, where Missouri hasn’t lost a game since a 75-73 affair to Oklahoma State here on Feb. 26, 2008.
As in the Title, last season’s Big 12 Conference Tournament, which Mizzou won on the way to a 31-7 season that ended with a run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Missouri took the floor Friday night without its top three scorers from that team: DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons and Matt Lawrence. Carroll is playing with the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA, Lyons pro ball in Israel and Lawrence pro ball in Norway.
How well Missouri is going to transition from last season to this one likely will require more of a test than Truman State -- 6-21 last season and 1-19 in the MIAA -- could provide.
But Missouri - from starters J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor and Keith Ramsey (all seniors), junior Justin Safford and sophomore Kimmie English on down the roster - looked up to the task before a full student section and a half full (8,120 official attendance) at Mizzou Arena.
At the half, Missouri led 50-25.
At a time out with still 11 minutes, 54 seconds to play in the second half, Missouri was on a 23-4 scoring run. Bowers made it 25-4 seconds later with his 12th point to go with 10 rebounds. And seconds after that, Dixon scored his fifth basket of the game to extend the run to 27-4.
By the time Jarrett Sutton -- a walk-on newly rewarded with a scholarship -- got into the game with 7:28 left, Missouri’s second-half sizzle had lengthened to 32-5 with the Tigers up 82-30.
And with 3:42 left, Sutton and freshman reserve Tyler Stone each had five points for the Tigers, equal to the total of second half points by Truman State to that point.
The Bulldogs rallied back from that point, if you can call being out-scored 46-8 in the second half.
Bowers led Missouri in scoring (14) and rebounding (12). Tiller scored 13 points on five of six shooting. English, Safford and Dixon finished with 10 points each.
Missouri closes out its exhibition season with a game at 7 p.m. here next Friday against Northwest Missouri State.