COLUMBIA, Mo. — Playing its third game in five days, the Missouri basketball team cruised past another mid-major conference opponent Tuesday, blasting Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 105-80 at Mizzou Arena to improve to 4-0 for just the fourth time in the last decade.
With their highest-scoring game since 2009, the Tigers continued their early-season romp over overmatched opponents as part of first-year coach Dennis Gates’ soft runway through the season’s first month. Mizzou doesn’t play away from home until its eighth game, Nov. 29 at Wichita State, and doesn’t face a high-major conference foe until Dec. 10 against No. 6 Kansas.
On Tuesday, the Tigers unleashed another prolific scoring attack with five players in double figures. D’Moi Hodge became the third different player to lead the Tigers in scoring and the third to eclipse the 20-point threshold, finishing with 30 points. MU’s 105 points were the team’s most since a 106-69 victory over Oregon on Dec. 5, 2009.
People are also reading…
Three major takeaways from MU’s latest victory:
Hodge takes flight
Gates made a prediction weeks before the season: There will come a time when senior forward Kobe Brown picks up early fouls and the Tigers will have to learn how to play without their top scorer and rebounder.
For the first time this season, the Tigers faced that scenario when Brown was whistled for two fouls in the game’s opening two minutes. The preseason All-SEC forward headed to the bench with 18:01 left in the half and the Tigers ahead 7-4. Freshman Aidan Shaw was the first player off the bench to take his place but he also headed to the bench with two fouls after just five minutes of action.
At times last year the Tigers crumbled without their centerpiece on the floor. Not Tuesday. Hodge kept the Tigers warm early, scoring nine of MU’s first 14 points. The transfer guard matched his season high with 17 points in the first half, shooting 6 of 10 from the floor. He also led the Tigers with five rebounds.
With a 3-pointer from the wing early in the second half, Hodge became the third Mizzou player to score 20 points in a game this season, following Brown (20 vs. Southern Indiana) and Noah Carter (28 vs. Penn).
Hodge did more than score for the Tigers. He led the Tigers with seven rebounds and four steals and added three assists. His 30 points were the most for a Mizzou player since Brown scored 30 against Alabama last season.
The Tigers had a balanced scoring attack to support Hodge’s big night. Sean East II added 14 points off the bench, while Brown added 12. Isiaih Mosley had his first double-digit game since transferring from Missouri State, finishing with 10 points. Tre Gomillion added another 10 off the bench.
Assists galore, again
Mizzou came into Tuesday’s game as the country’s only team to log 20 assists in three games this year. Make it four.
The Tigers finished with 22 assists on 43 field goals with East leading the team with five. Nine different players had at least one assist and four had at least three.
The last time Mizzou had three consecutive games with 20 assists was way back in the 2011-12 season, when Frank Haith guided the nation’s most efficient offensive team to 30 victories. The point guard on that team: Phil Pressey, who led the Big 12 in assists that season. Pressey is now a graduate assistant on Gates’ staff.
Mizzou’s 24 assists Sunday against Lindenwood was the program’s most since the 2010-11 team recorded 26 against Northern Illinois.
Defense stands tall
If Gates had any nits to pick over Mizzou’s first week of games they came on the defensive end as the Tigers allowed 91 and 85 points in their first two contests. MU’s first three foes — all low- to mid-major conference foes — shot nearly 42% from 3-point range. But the Tigers put the clamps down Tuesday. Fouls piled up quickly, but that didn’t take away from MU’s rugged half-court defense. SIUE missed 16 of its final 17 shots in the first half, made only 1 of 11 3-pointers in the half and turned the ball over 11 times.
The Tigers took advantage of the miscues with timely conversions in transition. Brown, back on the floor to start the second half, ignited a transition chance with a block that he tipped to Nick Honor in the open floor to set up an easy layup on the break.
Mizzou finished the night with 15 steals and held SIUE to 4-of-21 shooting from deep.
Photos: Mizzou men’s basketball team routes SIU Edwardsville