Missouri Basketball used a dominating rebounding advantage (51-31) and 46 points in the paint to dispatch of Rotterdam, 87-64, in the opening game of the club's 2012 European Tour on Friday.
The Tigers led 53-36 at the half and by as many as 26 in the contest to earn the victory. Newcomers Earnest Ross and Keion Bell led the team with 17 points apiece and five Tigers were in double figures overall, including four newcomers.
"I thought the guys played well considering all but two haven't been in a college game situation for a year," Head Coach Frank Haith said. "I thought we were active and kept them from getting into much of a rhythm. We put some guys in new spots, like running Keion Bell at the point and he looked good. This is exhibition for us, so we are going to look at some different combinations and we did that most of the second half. We are a deeper team and having a chance to get these young guys some playing time is a big positive."
As Haith alluded to, several newcomers got extended playing time, including Tony Criswell. The Oklahoma City native scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The 6-foot-9 forward hit 7-of-9 shots overall and was active during his 22 minutes of play, jumping in passing lanes and running out during fast-break opportunities.
"I thought Tony did the things tonight that he has been doing in practice," Haith said. "He was active, aggressive and shot the ball with confidence. He did the same things we are going to need from him during the regular season."
Criswell and Ross each finished just two boards shy of a double-double and Michael Dixon nearly added a double-double as well scoring 10 points and dishing nine assists.
Another newcomer, Alex Oriakhi, made an impact in a number of areas including blocked shots. The senior swatted four shots and added six points with seven boards in just 18 minutes. He was one of several MU players hampered by foul trouble, including freshman Stefan Jankovic. Jankovic played just 10 minutes due to fouls, but entered the game and knocked down his first shot, a trey from the top of the key. He also added four boards.
St. Louis-area native Ryan Rosburg was also impressive chipping in five points, five boards and two steals.
"I thought those two young guys did some good things out there," senior forward Laurence Bowers said. "Stefan is active and can really shoot the ball. Ryan will muscle up and battle in the post. Those guys are going to get better and better with each game over here."
Mizzou returns to action on Saturday night at 8 p.m. local (1 p.m. CT) against the Netherlands National B Team (U24 National Squad).
Laurence Bowers and Phil Pressey did not play in the game tonight. Bowers would have been available had this been a regular-season game and Pressey is working his way back to full strength after suffering a mild knee sprain last week.
Despite Bowers' absence Mizzou still out-rebounded Rotterdam by 20, 51-31.
Eight of 10 players who saw action played at least 10 minutes. A ninth, Danny Feldmann, saw nine minutes of playing time.
Freshman guard Negus Webster-Chan did not see action, but that's about to change. The freshman had not been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center at the time of the team departure, but he was cleared late Friday afternoon and could travel to join the team on the trip this weekend, but due to the late notice it's now more likely in time for the trip to Belgium.
Tour Of Amsterdam Day 2 The Tigers woke up at around 8 a.m. on Friday and enjoyed a quick breakfast at the team hotel before touring the Anne Frank House in downtown Amsterdam. One of the more memorable experiences for the team thus far, the tour featured a private presentation from one of the museum's staff members and finished with a complete tour of the original house.
The house was tall, but incredibly narrow. The team could barely fit up the stairs and even had the opportunity to walk through the same bookcase which hid the Frank family's attic.
No pictures or video were allowed in the house to preserve the numerous pages of Anne Frank's original diaries, which are still displayed at the house.
After the tour the team had a chance to get out and experience the downtown portion of Amsterdam. They even found a Foot Locker and Nike store in the huge outdoor shopping center adjacent to the hotel.
The pre-game meal was hosted at a neighboring hotel and we departed for Rotterdam, Netherlands, at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time. It took 90 minutes to travel from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and after a quick warm up the game was underway.
The drive from Amsterdam to Rotterdam was very rural. Farms with cows, sheep and goats lined the highway. There is a great deal of water surrounding Rotterdam. In fact the city used to boast one of the world's busiest shipping ports/docks.
Be sure to check out the blog Phil Pressey and Alex Oriakhi are doing with mutigers.com and our internet partner CBS Sports. The blog will be posted daily on the college basketball page of CBSSports.com. Special thanks to Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander for their help making the blog national! After the blog is posted at CBS we will then post the link on mutigers.com.