Missouri guard Mark Smith had 14 points with eight minutes left in the first half, doubling Morehead State’s seven points at the time.
Smith’s shooting and the Tigers’ stifling defense remained common themes throughout Missouri’s 75-61 victory over the Eagles Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers found themselves down 2-0 to start off the game, but Javon Pickett found Smith for a three-pointer to give the Tigers the lead. The next possession was more of the same, and the possession after that, Smith found his way to the bucket for an easy lay-in. He had eight quick points to put Missouri up on top 8-2 and would eventually help the Tigers jump out to a commanding 20-4 lead.
Smith ended the first half with 16 points on five-of-seven shooting, as Missouri led 45-22 after 20 minutes of play. The sophomore had a somewhat quiet second half, scoring just six points, but it was enough to give him a career-high 22 points. And without Smith’s offensive outburst in the first half, the Tigers wouldn’t get that kickstart they needed to settle in early on.
But coming with Smith’s low-output second half was a 44-24 run by Morehead State to put them down just eight points with less than 10 minutes remaining. Luckily for Missouri, two senior leaders in Jordan Geist and Kevin Puryear took charge to put this game away.
Geist shouldered the offensive load late in this one, ending up with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting (58.3%), including a four-for-eight mark from beyond the arc. Puryear was efficient from three-point-range as well (2-4) en route to a 12 point outing.
Saturday’s victory was Missouri’s sixth-straight, the longest such streak in five years. It also clinches an undefeated month of December heading into conference play. The Tigers face the daunting task of taking on No. 3 Tennessee to open up SEC play at 6 p.m. CST Tuesday, January 8.