Story by Michael Losch
Photos by Cody Mroczka
Missouri guard Jabari Brown (32) fights for a loose ball between South Carolina defenders Mindaugas Kacinas (25) and Michael Carrera (24) on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Mizzou Arena. Brown led the Tigers in scoring with 24 points.
COLUMBIA — Missouri had no trouble finding the open man in its 82-74 victory against visiting South Carolina Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers produced a season-high 18 assists, well above their season average of 10.3 per game.
“It’s not just the passer’s willingness to pass, but it’s guys moving without the ball,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said.
Jabari Brown led the Tigers with 24 points and put up a career-best six assists. Jordan Clarkson added 22 points and
Missouri point guard Jordan Clarkson (5) lets go of a short one-handed shot over South Carolina defenders Duane Notice (10) and Demetrius Henry (21).
Missouri forward Ryan Rosburg (44) attempts to secure a loose ball as South Carolina’s Michael Carrera (24) tries to draw the charge.
Missouri guard Earnest Ross (33) beats a South Carolina defender to the basket for an easy layup. Ross chipped in 14 points and five rebounds for the Tigers.
Missouri forward Johnathan Williams (3) attempts to put back a missed shot in the first half against South Carolina.
Earnest Ross chipped in 14.
Brown said the team watched game film after Tuesday’s loss at LSU and Haith emphasized the need to find the open guy.
“If you have guys coming at you it’s about finding the open guy,” Brown said. “You want to get everyone involved.”
Missouri got off to a hot start with an 11-0 run, holding South Carolina scoreless until about the 16-minute mark. Toward the end of the first half Missouri would go on another run, scoring 16 unanswered points. The lead would grow as high as 20 and the Tigers went into halftime with a comfortable 38-22 lead.
The Tigers held South Carolina to just 25 percent shooting from the floor.
South Carolina guard Brenton Williams had a career-best seven 3-pointers and led the Gamecocks with 32 points.
South Carolina started to slowly climb its way back in the second half with the help of Williams and forward Michael Carrera, who scored 16 points and posted 11 rebounds. South Carolina came within six off a pair of Carrera free throws with 1:18 to go, but that would be as close as the Gamecocks got.
With the loss, South Carolina remains winless in the Southeastern Conference (0-6) and is off to its worst conference start in 15 years. South Carolina is also still searching for its first road win of the season.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin described the current state of his team after the loss.
“We’re trying to build a foundation here,” said the second-year coach. “We have to focus on the positive and continue to build.“
Missouri improved to 15-4 overall and 3-3 in SEC play. The Tigers will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., on Tuesday night to face former Missouri coach Mike Anderson and the 13-6 Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Tigers lost a close game to the Razorbacks last season in Fayetteville 73-71.