MU returns from break with defeat of Valparaiso

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Rickey Paulding scored 22 points and Ricky Clemons added 18 as No. 16 Missouri defeated Valparaiso 65-47 on Monday night.

Arthur Johnson added 12 points and nine rebounds for Missouri. With five blocked shots, the junior became the Tigers' career leader with 151.

Leading just 21-20 at halftime, Missouri (7-1) opened the second half with a 12-2 run.

The Tigers topped their first-half scoring when Paulding's 3-pointer just 7:50 into the second half gave the Tigers a 43-27 lead. Missouri also forced Valparaiso (5-6) into seven turnovers in the first four minutes of the half.

Stalin Ortiz led the Crusaders with 13 points.

Valparaiso scored seven straight points to take a 7-5 lead early in the first half. Clemons sparked Missouri with a steal and a layup with 8:15 left in the half to bring the Tigers within 14-10. Paulding scored the next five points to put Missouri ahead.

Missouri, which played its first game since an 85-70 loss to Illinois on Dec. 21, took just 14 shots in the first half.

Valparaiso consistently ran the shot clock to less than 10 seconds on its possessions, which gave the Tigers few chances to settle into their fast-paced offense. Missouri also had eight turnovers in the first half.

Johnson was 3-of-3 and had seven rebounds in the first half. For most of the game, he battled Valparaiso's 6-foot-11 Raitis Grafs, who played just 11 minutes in the first half because of two quick fouls.

Freshman Jimmy McKinney, who started his first game for Missouri, scored eight points and made 5-of-6 free throws.

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