Tigers' quickness unravels California 93-66

Monday, December 8, 2008
L.G. PATTERSON ~ Associated Press
Missouri's Zaire Taylor looks for help as he holds the ball away from California's Jorge Gutierrez during the second half Sunday in Columbia, Mo.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- DeMarre Carroll is such a believer he said it twice: Missouri is the most unselfish team in the country.

The numbers backed him up after the Tigers combined for 22 assists, dazzling California with their quickness on both ends of the court in a 93-66 victory Sunday.

"It just shows how much trust we have in each other," Carroll said. "It's a whole new team and it's a whole new era, and we're looking forward to bigger and better things."

It starts with the senior big men for Missouri (7-1). Carroll had 19 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Leo Lyons added 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Both played pivotal roles in an early 18-point run that put Missouri in control. And both finished with big games despite playing only 22 minutes each.

California's Nikola Knezevic, left, of Serbia, collides with Missouri's Michael Anderson as they battle for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won the game 93-66. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

"I'm always looking for quality minutes," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "And that's what they gave us."

Jerome Randle had 15 points for California (6-2), which shot a season-worst 35.9 percent and committed 20 turnovers against the Tigers' press, often creating easy baskets on the opposite end. Missouri also ended with 20 offensive rebounds while outrebounding California 48-38.

"I would just say as a general rule they were quicker than we were across the board," first-year California coach Mike Montgomery said. "To the ball, to the boards, to the basket, in every phase.

"We didn't compete very hard at stretches out there, so we got pretty much what we deserved."

Missouri won easily despite hitting only one of its first 14 3-point attempts, finishing strong by making five of its last six from long range. Four of those were by freshman reserve Kim English, who had all but two of his 16 points in the second half.

The Tigers shot 49 percent, had a season-high seven blocks and added 14 steals.

"I think these guys enjoy playing with each other," Anderson said. "I think they understand what we're trying to accomplish and a lot of credit goes to our seniors. It's very evident."

Theo Robertson added 12 points for California, which has dropped two of three after a 5-0 start. The Golden Bears had been allowing 62 points per game with a high of 80.

California players thought Missouri had extra incentive after losing 86-72 to the Golden Bears on the road last year.

"We could have beaten this team," Randle said. "But they obviously had a chip on their shoulder from last year and they hustled for 40 minutes."

Lyons and Carroll each hit their first four shots, and consecutive baskets by Lyons started the 18-0 run that put the Tigers ahead 27-8 with about 12 1/2 minutes to go in the half. Marcus Denmon finished off the run with a 3-pointer.

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