Story by Michael Losch
Photos by Cody Mroczka
Missouri center Keanau Post battles for position on a rebound between Davidson defenders Chris Czerapowics (left) and Tyler Kalinoski (right) on Tuesday, March 18, at Mizzou Arena. Tuesday was Post’s fourth career start for the Tigers.
COLUMBIA — Missouri was tested.
By focusing on every ‘four-minute battle’ — the time between each television break — the Tigers were able to beat Southern Conference regular season champion Davidson 85-77 at Mizzou Arena on Tuesday night.
Down by as many as 13 points with 16 minutes left to play, Missouri needed an answer to continue its season and advance to the second-round of the National Invitational Tournament.
“There’s no 13-point play,” Missouri guard Earnest Ross said. “We were just trying to win each four minutes. It kind of inspired us and gave us the fire to play hard and we just continued to play.”
Missouri went on a 42-21 run to end the game that was made possible by the Tigers’ ability to drive to the basket, find ways to score, and get to the free throw line.
“We knew if we continued to drive the ball we could continue to get to the free throw line,” Ross said. “Getting to the rim is something we were able to execute.”
Davidson gave Missouri all it could handle throughout the game. Whether it was senior forward De’Mon Brooks scoring 29 points in the paint, or guard Tyler Kalinoski scoring 16 points from beyond the arc with four 3-pointers, the Wildcats seemed to have an answer for any Missouri run.
“Brooks is a terrific player,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “He makes plays and was a chore for us.”
Missouri guard Jabari Brown kept the Tigers in it by scoring 17 of the team’s 37 first half points. Brown would finish with 30 points, Ross added 16 of his own and guard Jordan Clarkson scored 15 points.
The Tigers shot 61 percent from the field, making only two 3-pointers compared to the Wildcats’ nine.
“Having to defend the dribble so much on defense wears you down,” Davidson head coach Bob McKillop said. “I’m incredibly proud of our guys and the way they fought for 40 minutes.”
The Tigers were short-handed only having eight players available due to the suspension of freshman guards Shane Rector and Wes Clark. Haith said more information still needs to be gathered before an evaluation can be made on either player’s return.
Limited bench options forced Missouri to call on Danny Feldman, a junior forward who had only played 19 minutes all season. Feldman provided a spark off the bench, scoring four points in 23 minutes of action including a dunk late in the game.
“I just knew I was going to play as hard as I could for every second I was in there,” Feldman said. “It feels great to be out there with the guys. I work hard everyday in practice and am always ready to get out there to provide energy and be a workhorse.”
Brown said he was confident in Feldman’s ability on the court.
“Danny really stepped up,” Brown said. “He’s real smart, he knows where he is supposed to be and is not afraid to make a play.”
The Tigers will host the winner of Southern Mississippi and Toledo on Sunday at Mizzou Arena.
Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson brings the ball up the court in the second half against Davidson on Tuesday, March 18, at Mizzou Arena. Clarkson finished with 15 points for the Tigers.
Missouri guard Jabari Brown attempts a jump shot over Davidson defender Tom Droney on Tuesday, March 18, at Mizzou Arena. Brown led the Tigers in scoring with 30 points.
Missouri guard Earnest Ross attempts a crossover dribble in front of Davidson defender Tyler Kalinoski on Tuesday, March 18, at Mizzou Arena. Ross scored 16 points and added six rebounds in the Tigers 85-77 victory.