Kevin Puryear scored a season-high 20 points and Jordan Barnett tied his career-high with five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points and eight rebounds as Missouri ran past Miami 70-51 on Tuesday night.
Kassius Robertson added 17 points, including three 3s, and Jeremiah Tilmon finished with 12 points and six rebounds for Missouri (7-2). The Tigers struggled out of the gate but eventually got hot from distance, making 10 of 23.
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Darrian Ringo led Miami (5-4) with 14 points and Jalen Adaway added 13.
Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin wasn’t ready to let go of the Tigers’ early struggles, however.
“I think the team that played the hardest didn’t win the game,” Martin said.
Missouri let the RedHawks hang around by committing 17 turnovers. The Tigers turned the ball over nine times against UCF in their last outing, but committed 20 against West Virginia and 16 versus St. John’s in their prior two contests.
But the Missouri defense swarmed the RedHawks in the first half, holding them to just 24 points on 28-percent shooting. Miami finished at just 32 percent, including 5 for 24 from 3-point range.
“When we’re getting rhythm shots, we’ve just got to step up and knock them down,” Miami coach Jack Owens said. “If a few shots go down it might be a different ball game.”
Miami: The Redhawks stifled Missouri early on defense, but couldn’t put together anything offensively. Miami has struggled to score in all but one game this season. The Redhawks need to pick up their offensive production if they want a chance to finish strong in their tough nonconference schedule.
Missouri: The turnover issue contributed to Missouri’s rough start. But its offense picked up a steady flow, capping the half with a slew of transition buckets and open 3s. The Tigers’ hot-shooting night should give them momentum heading into their final four nonconference games.
“It’s a very unselfish team, without a doubt,” Martin said. “You have 17 turnovers and 17 assists. We don’t have questions about guys being selfish, it’s making the right decisions.”
Missouri picked itself up with a 14-0 run late in the first half. In that stretch, the Tigers sped past Miami in transition and splashed four 3-pointers in five possessions. The other possession resulted in a fast-break dunk by Tilmon.
“(Tilmon) can beat anyone down the floor,” Robinson said. “Our bigs are amazing runners. They did a really good job tonight running and our guards did a good job finding them.”
A FULL FORTY
Missouri never reached a point of comfort in its victory. The RedHawks made an 11-0 run to pull within 12 in the second half.
“We’ve got to set a tone early, we didn’t set a tone,” Martin said.
As a result, Missouri relied heavily on its starters for offensive production. The Tigers’ bench scored just two points for its lowest output of the season.
Miami will return home to face Fort Wayne on Saturday.
Missouri stays home and takes on Green Bay (2-4) on Saturday before a weeklong break.