Xavier Spoils Gant’s Mizzou Debut

Wes Clark (15) shoots a three in the corner over Xavier’s Myles Davis (15) on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Clark didn’t have much impact offensively, as he scored three points off the bench for the Tigers.

Wes Clark (15) shoots a three in the corner over Xavier’s Myles Davis (15) on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Clark didn’t have much impact offensively, as he scored three points off the bench for the Tigers.

Story by Greg Dailey, KBIA Sports
Photos by Tim Leible, KBIA Sports

COLUMBIA — A season of learning through losing continued for the Missouri Tigers in a 74-58 loss Saturday afternoon to Xavier.

Guard Dee Davis led the Musketeers with 17 points. Johnathan Williams III also put in 17 to pace the Tigers. The highlight of the first half for the Tigers was freshman Jakeenan Gant making his freshman debut. Gant had been held out by the university due to questions about his eligibility.

“We’re thrilled to have him back on our basketball team,” head coach Kim Anderson said.

Gant finished the game with 13 points, shooting four of eight from the floor. He also had two blocks and a steal in his 15 minutes of action. Missouri coach Kim Anderson said Gant provided a much-needed boost to a struggling first-half offense.

“Jakeenan coming in and making a shot, I thought that really picked up our guys,” he said.

“He’s relentless,” guard Keith Shamburger said.

Missouri played in front of 7,854, its largest home crowd of the season. The fans at Mizzou Arena crowd gave Gant a standing ovation as he checked into the game the first time.

“It gave us motivation,” Williams said about the atmosphere. “It gave us a spark on the court.”

In the second half, Anderson picked up his first technical foul of the season. “I obviously made my point too vociferously,” he said. “In a way I was trying to fire my team up.”

The Missouri bench certainly fired the team up, particularly with the play of Gant and D’Angelo Allen. The two freshman combined for 21 points, shooting 7-11 from the field in 26 minutes.

“They bring good energy,” Anderson said of Gant and Allen.

The Musketeer bench was just a little better though. Sophomore guards Brandon Randolph and Myles Davis chipped in 11 apiece, each knocking down three shots from beyond the arc.

Davis was the biggest threat on the court for Xavier. He shot six of nine from the field, hit all four of his free throw attempts, pulled down four rebounds and dished out four assists.

Unable to take the lead at any point in the game, Missouri could never quite make up for its slow start to the game.

Missouri did not get on the scoreboard until nearly three minutes when Namon Wright hit a jumper. It took almost six more minutes for the Tigers to hit another field goal. The Musketeers extended a first-half lead to as much as 13 at 22-9, but Missouri closed the half on an 18-10 run.

Xavier improves to 8-2 while Missouri falls to 5-5. The Tigers return to action when they face Illinois next Saturday in the annual Braggin’ Rights rivalry game in St. Louis.

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