Mizzou sputters in SEC opener against LSU

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Junior forward Jordan Barnett St. Louis) set a career-best in points scored (18) for the second consecutive game, but it was not enough as Mizzou Men’s Basketball (5-8, 0-1) fell to LSU (9-4, 1-1) by a score of 88-77 on Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers were powered to a 40-35 halftime lead in its Southeastern Conference opener thanks to 14 first-half points from Barnett.

Barnett’s shooting touch and gritty play in a second-straight start for sophomore guard Jordan Geist (Fort Wayne, Ind.) helped the Tigers along their way in first half play against LSU. Head coach Kim Anderson’s squad shot 42.9 percent (6-of-14) from deep in the opening period. Both Barnett and Geist hit two triples before the break, shooting 2-of-5 and 2-of-3, respectively.

A 16-0 Mizzou run over a six-minute stretch in the first half helped the Tigers open a seven-point lead, 22-15, at the 9:37 mark of the opening period. Mizzou led by as many as 10 points in the half and took a 40-35 lead heading into the break.

Geist (13 points) and Barnett were two of five Mizzou players to score in double figures Wednesday, as sophomore forward Kevin Puryear (Blue Springs, Mo.) turned in another superb effort with 15 points and seven rebounds. Puryear was held back by foul trouble throughout the second half and eventually fouled out of the contest.

The Tigers’ hot shooting in the first half cooled after the halftime break, as Mizzou connected on just 1-of-13 attempts from three-point range in the second half. Sophomore guard Terrence Phillips (Orange County, Calif.) sank the lone deep make, which helped him on his way to 12 points. Phillips filled the stat sheet coming off the bench, recording eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals. Phillips’ eight assists matched a career high after dishing eight dimes against Northwestern State (Nov. 26).

Inserted into the starting lineup for the first time this season, sophomore guard K.J. Walton (Indianapolis, Ind.) came alive in the second half with nine points after the break to lead the Tigers in scoring. Walton finished the game with 11 points for his third game this season scoring 10 points or more and 12th of his career.

LSU’s Antonio Blakeney led the way for the opposition with 24 points on 10-of-20 field goal shooting, hitting 3-of-4 from three-point territory. Blakeney scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half to help LSU pull away and secure the result.

Mizzou continues SEC play on the road Saturday (Jan. 7) at Georgia. Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT with the game set to air on the SEC Network.