Clemons uses a hot start to power MU past Huskers

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Ricky Clemons was all business, which didn't surprise Missouri.

The junior guard didn't let his off-court problems bother him against Nebraska, hitting six of his first eight shots and scoring 20 points in the Tigers' 67-50 victory Tuesday night. All but three of the points came in the first half as Missouri established control.

About four hours before game time, Clemons pleaded innocent at a brief hearing to a felony charge of choking a woman and refusing to let her leave his apartment. A trial date will be set March 3 in Boone County Circuit Court.

"I didn't put my focus on going to court," Clemons said. "I put my focus on being with my teammates and going out and playing hard."

Teammates noticed Clemons' mindset from the minute he walked into the Hearnes Center.

"I think once he got here, his focus was on basketball," guard Rickey Paulding said. "He left that behind him. He came here to help the team."

Coach Quin Snyder said it was just another obstacle for the team, and for Clemons, to clear.

"You always are concerned, but to be honest with you I'm moving on from that whole situation until it's appropriate to talk about it again," Snyder said. "I think right now the story for me is about how Ricky Clemons is playing on the court."

Clemons led Missouri (16-6, 7-4 Big 12) to a season-best 13 3-pointers in 36 attempts against a sagging defense, going 6-for-12 from long range, and he added three steals. The Tigers won their first game since getting knocked out of the Top 25 for the first time this season and had their first double-digit victory in conference play.

Freshman Jimmy McKinney flirted with a triple-double, getting nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Missouri, 13-0 in the Hearnes Center for the first time since 1995-96. Paulding had 11 points to become the second Missouri player to top 1,000 career points this season, joining center Arthur Johnson, who had 10 points.

Topping a season high

Missouri's previous high for 3-pointers this season was 11 against Wisconsin-Green Bay and Colorado. The Tigers finished seven shy of the school record for 3-pointers made and one shy of attempts, both last season at Colorado.

"Tonight they were clearly giving us jump shots," Snyder said. "You have to shoot them with confidence. You've got to take those shots if that's what they're giving you, and that's what was there."

Missouri attempted 29 shots inside the 3-point arc, making 12 of them.

"We were trying to really check inside and take away Johnson's ability to roam free, so obviously that gave them some opportunities inside for all of their perimeter shooters," Nebraska coach Barry Collier said. "We had limited success with that, obviously."

The emphasis on 3-pointers left the Tigers without a free throw attempt until Travon Bryant drew a shooting foul with 7:32 left, making one of two. Missouri finished 4-for-7 from the line.

Nate Johnson had 17 points. Andrew Drevo added 14 and seven rebounds for Nebraska (9-15, 1-10), the Big 12's last-place team and winless at Missouri since 1995. The Huskers have lost eight in a row and are 1-9 since Jake Muhleisen broke his hip Jan. 11.

"They're real active, they do a real good job crushing the passing lane, and they don't give up penetration," Drevo said. "They made us shoot over the top, and we didn't get the shots we needed."

Missouri was 4-for-23 from 3-point range in a 63-56 victory at Nebraska Jan. 29.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: