Tiger Basketball Starts Europe Tour Off with Win
COLUMBIA -- The Missouri Tigers started their exhibition play in Europe off with a 87-64 win against Rotterdam on Friday. Mizzou's two transfer students, Earnest Ross and Keion Bell, who observed last year's 30-5 wins on the bench lead the way. Both finished the game with 17 points; Bell got the start while Ross came off the bench.
"I thought the guys played well considering all but two haven't been in a college game situation for a year," Head Coach Frank Haith said. "I thought we were active and kept them from getting into much of a rhythm. We put some guys in new spots, like running Keion Bell at the point and he looked good. This is exhibition for us, so we are going to look at some different combinations and we did that most of the second half. We are a deeper team and having a chance to get these young guys some playing time is a big positive."
Starter Tony Criswell followed Ross and Bell's lead by adding 15 points to the Tigers win.
"I thought Tony did the things tonight that he has been doing in practice," Haith said. "He was active, aggressive and shot the ball with confidence. He did the same things we are going to need from him during the regular season."
Former Connecticut big man Alex Oriakhi and Oregon transfer Jabari Brown also got the start beside Criswell and Bell. Oriakhi added 6 points along with 7 rebounds and 4 blocks while Brown, who won't be able to play until January due to his semester transfer, scored 13 points.
Heading up the Tigers' team on the court was the only returning starter Frank Haith will be playing while overseas: Michael Dixon. Dixon had 10 points, 9 assists and 3 steals. Haith announced returning starter Phil Pressey would not be participating in the Europe Tour after he injured his knee in practice. Laurence Bowers, who suffered a knee injury and did not play last season, is also sitting out as part of his recovery plan.
Incoming freshman Negus Webster-Chan also did not see any playing time for the Tigers on Friday because he had not been cleared to play by the NCAA Eligibility Center. He was cleared late Friday afternoon and will mostly likely not join the team until they head to Belgium.
Missouri is scheduled to play game two of their Europe Tour against the Netherlands National B Team (U24 Squad) on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT.