Missouri men hold off strong Long Beach team, 69-59

Photos by Karen Mitchell
Story by The Associated Press

Jabari Brown (32) tries to steal the ball from David Samuels (11) in the second half.

Jabari Brown (32) tries to steal the ball from David Samuels (11) in the second half.

COLUMBIA —Jabari Brown had one of his best overall offensive games, scoring 22 points to lead No. 25 Missouri to a 69-59 victory over pesky Long Beach State on Saturday. Brown hit a key 3-pointer late in the game and played 39 minutes.

“I’m from the West Coast, so I know Long Beach State has a good team every year,” Brown said. “Their record isn’t the

greatest, but they’ve played pretty much everybody on the road.”

The 49ers shot just 27 percent and were out-rebounded 24-11 in the second half.

Earnest Ross added 16 points and Ryan Rosburg had a career-high 11 rebounds for the Tigers (12-1), who open Southeastern Conference play at home against Georgia on Wednesday. Jordan Clarkson, who leads the SEC with a 20-point average, had a season-low 11 points.

“I feel like we are in a good position,” Brown said. “We’ve been through a lot of close games, we’ve had some good games like this one here.”

Noting the lone loss was by a point to Illinois in St. Louis, coach Frank Haith said the Tigers are ready for the SEC.

“We’re two free throws from being 13-0, so I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Haith said. “I like where we’re at.”

Missouri has won 26 in a row at home, the longest current streak in the nation. It also has an 81-game winning streak against non conference opponents since losing to Sam Houston State to start the 2005-06 season.

This game was up for grabs before Brown’s 3-pointer made it 64-57 with 2:18 to go.

“I think we started off sluggish,” Rosburg said. “I think we turned it on when we needed to.”

“I think this game just shows us our identity and how good we can be if we play a whole game instead of just the first 10 minutes or the first half,” he added.

Long Beach State (4-10) cut the deficit to two points with just under six minutes remaining, but Missouri outscored the 49ers 12-4 the rest of the way.

“We were right there all the way until the end,” said Tyler Lamb, a UCLA transfer who was 4 for 13 from the field in his fourth game since gaining eligibility. “I think we could have won this game easily.”

Dan Jennings, Long Beach State’s leading rebounder, missed the last 16 minutes after banging heads with Caffey under the basket and going down awkwardly. Jennings favored his left leg walking off the court and also was being evaluated for a head injury.

“I’ve heard it was his head, then I heard it was his ankle,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “I’m not sure. I think they’re checking several things.”

Long Beach State won the Big West last season and had won three in a row since Lamb, a UCLA transfer, became eligible. Haith warned players this was no typical four-win team.

“I think they’ll contend for their league championship,” Haith said. “I think this is a great, great win for us.”

The Mizzou Arena was about half full, with attendance announced at 8,679 a day after the Tigers’ ninth-ranked football team beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl. Haith said he hadn’t noticed, but took the opportunity to poke fun at coach Gary Pinkel’s dance moves in the locker room.

“I did like our football game,” Haith said. “I liked Gary’s dance, too, by the way. I do need to spend some time with him working on some of that stuff for next season.”

Wes Clark’s 3-pointer gave Missouri its largest lead at 51-38 with 13:32 to play. Long Beach answered with a 10-2 run, with Lamb scoring five of the points. Four straight points by Gulley cut the deficit to 57-55 with just over six minutes to go.

Missouri shot 58 percent in the first half and rallied from eight points down to take a 37-34 lead. Long Beach had an 18-13 rebounding advantage, plus the Tigers hurt themselves by missing six of their first 11 free throws.

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