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After sluggish first half, Tigers explode in second half

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- After a nine-day layoff, Missouri needed a
jump-start at halftime. Fortunately for the No. 16 Tigers, they got
it.

Rickey Paulding scored 22 points and Ricky Clemons added 18 as
Missouri defeated Valparaiso 65-47 Monday night.

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.

"I think it's always a challenge when you come back from
Christmas," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "I expected to
misfire a little bit in the first half, which we did, but we also
turned up our defensive intensity."

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

Missouri, which played its first game since losing 85-70 to
Illinois on Dec. 21, came out sluggish in the first half and needed
a sharp-shooting second half to defeat the Crusaders.

Stalin Ortiz led Valparaiso with 13 points.

"I think we played great defense at the beginning of the game,
but we couldn't find our offense early," Paulding said. "We were
passive, we were turning the ball over. In the second half we just
came out with a lot more confidence."

That confidence eluded Missouri in the first half. 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 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.

"We thought the only chance we had was to slow the game down,"
Valparaiso coach Scott Drew said. "I feel bad for Quin because I
hate playing against teams that do that."

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.

"They held the ball and made us play defense, and that makes
you uncomfortable on offense," Clemons said. "We initiated our
offense in the second half. We didn't let them command how we ran
our offense late in the game, and that was the difference in the
second half."

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