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Kids kick-start Mizzou cakewalk

COLUMBIA | The youth of the Missouri basketball team didn’t wait to be served. The kids helped themselves.

Missouri’s seven new roster additions for 2008-’09 combined to score 32 of Missouri first 46 points in the Tigers’ 97-54 victory over patty cake opponent Lincoln University.

Lincoln finished 7-20 a year ago and with 38 turnovers Thursday night prospects do not look bright for this season.

OK, so this was just an exhibition game, adding nothing more than experience to the three exhibitions MU played in Canada in August and September.

But as he did in scoring 36 points in MU’s Black & Gold intrasquad game last week, freshman guard Marcus Denmon looked like a keeper.

In a 6 minute, 8 second span between coming off the bench and returning to it with two fouls, the former Kansas City Hogan Prep star scored seven points on three of three shooting (including a three), grabbed a rebound and dished out an assist in the first half.

Denmon finished with 12 points and four assists Thursday, and four fouls that point to some defensive work ahead.

Another top newcomer - junior point guard Zaire Taylor who sat out last season following a transfer from Delaware - was the only rookie in the starting lineup. He scored all 11 of his points on four of five from the first half.

“The guys on the bench brought some energy and some excitement, as a matter of fact,” said MU Coach Mike Anderson. “There’re more options on our basketball team.”

At the break, the foursome of Missouri veterans in the starting lineup - Leo Lyons, DeMarre Carroll, J.T. Tiller and Matt Lawrence - had combined for 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The seven newcomers combined for 36 points and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes. The other two points for MU in a 56-27 first half were scored by returning squad man Justin Safford.

The vets picked it up considerably in the second half, in part because Anderson let them play more minutes.

Lyons finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Carroll wound up with 11 points and five rebounds, and Lawrence scored 11 as well.

Returning players wound contributing 55 points and 23 rebounds. Newbies combined for 42 and 15.

But in that heavy contribution in that first half, Denmon and Taylor in particular showed they are likely ready for major minutes.

“Denmon’s a scorer,” Anderson said. “He’s got ice in his veins. Zaire, it’s expected out of him.”

Taylor wasn’t all that pleased with his play.

“Marcus, he’s instant offense,” Taylor said.

“My game, it was a good first half. But there were too many turnovers (3), not enough assists (2).”

Missouri - 4-0 in exhibitions - plays its final game that doesn’t count next Tuesday at 7 p.m. against visiting Missouri Southern.

Anderson is hoping the Tigers take care of the ball better in that game than in this one, in which MU had 22 turnovers.

Free throw shooting needs to improve as well. Missouri hit only 18 of 32.

STEFHON, IS THAT YOU?: Thanks to a computer glitch, the first-half box score passed out on media row listed Stefhon Hannah as having scored six points for Missouri. Hannah, of course, was booted off the team after the Club Athena scuffle in which he suffered a broken jaw last season. But the computer, apparently, read freshman Miguel Paul’s No. 3 and reverted back to last year. No. 3 was Hannah’s number as well.

SEVEN FOR SEVEN: All seven of Missouri’s new players scored. In fact, every Tiger scored.

LOW ATTENDANCE: The game - carried on television but not radio - drew a crowd announced at only 4,375.

To reach Mike DeArmond, Missouri reporter for The Star, call 816-234-4353 or send e-mail to mdearmond@kcstar.com.

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