Rickey Paulding led the Tigers with 21 points.
Nov 29, 2003
Paulding scored 21 points and Johnson added 19 to lead No. 5 Missouri to a tough season-opening 90-85 victory over Oakland on Saturday night.
Paulding, a preseason All-American, and Johnson are both products of the Detroit Public School League. Oakland is located 30 miles north of downtown Detroit, and the pair had a large cheering section among the sellout crowd of 4,055.
"Motown has been very good to us with Rickey and A.J., and that's why we gave up a home game to play here," Tigers coach Quin Snyder said. "But with four minutes left, it wasn't seeming like such a good idea."
Missouri led Oakland (2-4), in just its sixth year of Division I-A play, by only one with less than three minutes to play. The Golden Grizzlies had lost their last two games, to Michigan and Cincinnati, by an average of 27.5 points.
"I've got a lot of old friends on that Oakland team, so I knew they were going to be tough," Paulding said. "There was no way they were going to lay down."
Jimmy McKinney added 21 points for Missouri, which had five players score in double figures. The Tigers hurt themselves by committing 20 turnovers to just seven for Oakland.
"We needed a game like this - all the practice in the world can't replace game action," Snyder said. "A.J. and Rickey were under a lot of pressure playing at home, but I'm proud of the way all our guys responded down the stretch."
Oakland's Rawle Marshall led all scorers with 27 points, while Mike Helms had 21 before fouling out with 8:12 left and Missouri leading 70-67.
"I was disappointed that they fouled out the MVP of our league on a touch
foul," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. "But we know that we have to be able to
play without Mike, and our guys held them even from that point on."
With Helms exhorting his teammates during timeouts, Oakland pulled within 83-82 on a free throw by Marshall with 2:43 left.
"Sometimes when a star goes out, other guys step up, and that's what Marshall did," Snyder said. "This isn't a matter of us just overlooking an opponent - we played a very good team tonight. I expect them to win their league and no one will want to play them in the tournament."
After a miss by Johnson, Scott had a chance to give the Golden Grizzlies the lead but his shot rimmed out. Johnson then had a dunk to give Missouri an 88-85 lead with 46 seconds left.
DeMarcus Ishmeal then missed a tying 3-point attempt, ending Oakland's chances.
The Golden Grizzlies missed 10 of 31 free throws, including five in the final 10 minutes, while Missouri was nearly perfect from the line.
"You have to give them all the credit in the world - they hit 23 of 25 free throws, and one of those misses came after the game was over," Kampe said. "That's impressive for a team playing its opener on the road."
Oakland started the second half with a 12-2 run, including eight points from Helms, and took a 46-44 lead with 17:11 to go.
Helms picked up his fourth foul with 13:08 to play, but Paulding got his fourth just four seconds later.
Oakland led 64-63 with 11 minutes left, but McKinney's 3-pointer started a 7-1 run that forced Oakland to put Helms back into the game.
Missouri only led 33-30 with five minutes left in the first half, but went on a 9-4 run to take a 42-34 lead at halftime. Paulding led the Tigers with 12, while Marshall had 12 for the Golden Grizzlies.
"This was an exciting night," Johnson said. "I've played AAU ball with Mike and played against some of the other guys, so I knew what to expect. I'm just glad to be home and glad we pulled it out."
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