COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Thomas Gardner had 19 points and 12
rebounds for his first career double double, helping Missouri pull
away in the second half for a 68-60 victory over pesky Brown in the
opening round of the Guardians Classic on Monday night.
The Tigers, who shot 35 percent in their first regular-season
game in the new Paige Sports Arena, will play Houston in the second
round on Tuesday night. Houston rallied from a 10-point second-half
deficit to beat Sam Houston State 72-69 earlier Monday.
Linas Kleiza added 17 points and nine rebounds for Missouri,
which trailed by five in the first half and struggled to adjust to
Brown's 2-3 defense. The Tigers were 3-for-18 from 3-point range
midway through the second half before finally starting to connect,
Missouri, 16-14 last season, is rebuilding without Arthur
Johnson and Rickey Paulding.
Brown compensated for Forte's absence by going 11-for-21 from
3-point range. Huffman was 5-for-7 and Adolphe Coulibaly was
3-for-3 and added 11 points.
Gardner, a 6-5 guard, was 2-for-8 in the first half and missed
all five of his 3-point attempts. He was 5-for-8 the rest of the
way, including 3-for-5 from long range, and he also had four
assists. He had five offensive rebounds.
Gardner and Jimmy McKinney hit consecutive 3-pointers to give
Missouri, which led only 33-32 at halftime, a 49-40 lead with 12
minutes to go. Brown answered with a 3-pointer by Huffman with
11:15 left but never got any closer.
That was typical of Brown, which also quickly responded to
Missouri's best play of the game. A steal and behind-the-back pass
from Spencer Laurie to Glen Dandridge for a dunk put the Tigers
ahead 33-29 with 40 seconds left in the first half, but Ruscoe,
hardly rattled, hit a 3-pointer 16 seconds later.
Luke Ruscoe, the lone returning starter for Brown with Forte
out, added 14 points.