Mike Anderson has been preaching "40 Minutes of Hell" since the day he set foot in Columbia, Missouri three years ago after being hired as the head basketball coach. But after two subpar seasons, Anderson's seat was getting a little hot. The team has often looked confused in the last two seasons, using quick fix players while Anderson recruited "his type" of players.
But this year, it was supposed to be different. Bringing in seven newcomers, Anderson supposedly had the players he was looking for.
Consider the difference noticed.
Anderson and his Tigers are absolutely rolling. The Tigers patiently dismantled a respectable Oral Roberts team, steamrolled Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and obliterated the California Golden Bears. Now, Mizzou is 7-1, with only two major conference opponents in their next seven games before conference play kicks off.
Missouri 92, Oral Roberts 83
Facing a short ORU team, Leo Lyons did work. Leo had 26 points and eight boards, and fellow senior forward DeMarre Carroll chipped in an excellent overall effort, with 16 points, eight boards, four assists, two steals, a block, and no turnovers.
The Tigers shot very well as a team, hitting 54 percent from the floor, and held a comfortable lead for most of the night. But the defense was lacking. Oral Roberts shot a healthy 46 percent from the field with only 12 turnovers, a relatively low number for a team facing the "40 Minutes."
This is a game Missouri might not have won in the past. Oral Roberts is a decent team, expected to contend for their conference title. I'll take it, but this type of effort would probably lead to a loss against a Big 12 opponent, where Leo and 'Marre can't dominate at will down low.
Missouri 95, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 41
In what was the biggest margin of victory at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers crushed APB in every aspect of the game of basketball. Mizzou had five players in double figures, forced an impressive 28 turnovers, and held the Golden Lions to 27 percent shooting.
Anderson admitted to getting into his players for what he deemed a lackluster defensive performance against Oral Roberts, and they responded. Matt Lawrence led all scorers with 15 points, and freshman swingman Kimmie English had the best game of his young career, with 13 points in 16 minutes.
It seemed like Marcus Denmon and English, the two freshmen most expected to fill the cup this season, really caught their stroke tonight. They were a combined 10-17 for 24 points. When either one catches fire, they have NBA range with stunning ease. If one or both of them can provide a scorer off the bench, the Tigers are a much better team.
Missouri 93, California 66
I don't think anybody in their wildest dreams would have expected the Golden Bears to get run out of Mizzou Arena like this.
Nobody except Mike Anderson, that is.
Displaying a true "40 Minutes of Hell" for the first time...well....ever, Mizzou was relentless at both ends of the court and completely smoked a good Cal team. Led by the usual suspects (Lyons had 19 and Carroll had 18), encouraging trends also reappeared from their last effort against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Denmon didn't shoot well, going 4-13 from the field, but still got to the free throw line when his shot wasn't falling. He had 14 points and three steals, displaying quick hands on defense. But the real story was English. He had 16 points on 5-7 shooting and actually showed some unselfishness in the second half.
English hit three three-pointers in a row, including one from a different area code, and was wide open for a fourth. Nearly everybody in the arena wanted him to nail it, BUT he found a wide-open Lyons for a smooth jumper that went in. That kind of unselfishness will keep everybody happy in Columbia, and with more efforts like this game, the team will go very far.
- It may not show up on the stat sheet, but J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor are as valuable as anybody on this team. Both play stellar defense and can rebound exceptionally well for guards.
Tiller's four points, five boards, and seven assists against Cal are a nice overall line, but he also played very well guarding Jerome Randall, who came into the game averaging 21 points. Taylor did as well and also had six rebounds and two steals.
- Kimmie English definitely has the potential to be a star. I've mentioned how anxious and hyper he's seemed in the early going, but he's got every tool that you can ask for. He can bring the ball up the court, drive the lane, and shoot from anywhere inside halfcourt.
The only problem I see is over-aggression. If he's not hitting his shots, English has to learn when to pass or draw fouls. Speaking of fouls, he also commits a few too many at times. English dropped 16 points in 14 minutes against Cal, but also fouled out.
Regardless, the future looks bright for Kimmie. The fans at Mizzou Arena (who actually showed up to the Cal game, with an attendance of over 8,000) love his rainbow jumper and athleticism. In addition, he was hilarious with the media during the post-game conference, playfully imitating Anderson's defense first mentality when asked about his shooting performance.