As the game started both teams traded baskets. An early three from guard Mark Smith at 17:08 established the offensive flow for the Tigers. On the following possession he would drain another. A big dunk from Tilmon at 17:43 brought energy to the offense.
After a missed layup from the Norse, Xavier Pinson stormed down the court on a fast break. He lobbed it over the heads of defenders for freshman Kobe Brown to throw it down and bring Mizzou Arena to its feet. A possession later, Brown would dunk in the paint again, bringing the score to 14-10 Missouri. It was an explosive night for freshman Brown. Putting down an alley-oop and assisting on another must be some kind of stat, right? If it wasn’t before, it is now. Brown scored 10, rebounding five times and assisting twice.
The Norse were able to hang with the Tigers by capitalizing off turnovers. Through the first half, Northern Kentucky created seven points off four steals. At 9:41, the Norse put down a dunk, tying the score at 14 and forcing Coach Cuonzo Martin to call a timeout. The Tigers cleaned up their act, as Missouri went on a 9-2 run forcing the Norse to call a timeout at 6:55.
As the half closed, the Tigers would go on a 13-7 run to pull ahead. Missouri finished the half, up 36-29.
In a role reversal from the first half, Brown dealt an alley-oop to Tilmon at 18:20 to start the second half.
Meanwhile, Mark Smith looked sharp, hitting four of his seven three-point attempts.
“Man, Mark’s a worker. He comes in every morning like 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock sharp just getting up thousands of shots,” Kobe Brown said. “The coaches had to like, calm him down cause he’s still getting over injury and he’s still putting in so much work.”
Coach Martin was also pleased with Mark Smith’s performance, “He’s more than just a catch and shoot guy,” he said.
Extending a 7-0 Tiger run, Mitchell Smith hit his second three of the night, forcing a flustered Northern Kentucky to call a timeout.
Mitchell Smith reacted to a shot he banked in tonight.
“I hate shooting them off the glass, like who does that? But it worked out tonight. I’m glad I made it,” he said.
Smith’s teammates praised his shooting ability.
“Mitch can definitely shoot the ball way better than he’s shown,” Kobe Brown said. “When that comes out and he’s scorching, it’s gonna be scary.”
The Tigers continued to overpower the Norse. Missouri was able to shut down the paint and successfully stay out of foul trouble. Mitchell Smith fell into an unlikely role by hitting a corner three and a mid-range jumper.
Mizzou went on a 17-0 run with the Norse missing 11 straight shots. Northern Kentucky only ended their drought with 9:08 left in the game.
Missouri controlled the second half, scoring well and limiting the Norse’s scoring opportunities. Although not perfect, Missouri showed improvement from last year by turning the ball over 12 times.
“I feel like it’s just miscommunication,” Kobe Brown said about turnovers. “We just gotta get back and work on that.”
The Tigers overpowered Northern Kentucky winning handily, 71-56.