By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
There were two veterans shouldering the scoring load, good production from the center position, and even a dunk by Adams.
The names have changed, but Missouri Southern’s 83-63 victory over John Brown University on Friday night at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center displayed some similarities to last basketball season.
Guard Marquis Addison and forward Jordan Talbert, two juniors who are the Lions’ returning starters, combined for 45 points as the Lions won their season opener for the 17th consecutive year.
Addison doubled last year’s season average with 23 points, hitting 10-of-16 from the floor and 2-of-3 at the line. He also collected seven rebounds, four assists and five steals in 29 minutes.
“Playing behind three All-Americans and three all-conference players (Skyler Bowlin, Keane Thomann and Jason Adams) the last two years, there were not many shots,” Addison said. “We were fortunate to be able to learn from them, and that helps us right now. The big thing we wanted to show the new guys was we don’t lose here. We protect the home court.”
Talbert set a career high with 22 points and tied his career high with 12 rebounds, including eight off the offensive glass. He also dished out four assists.
“I expect to be more aggressive on the offensive end,” Talbert said. “I’m looking for my shot more but staying within the offense.”
“Both of them came out with a lot of energy,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “Both played hard and smart and got us out of the gate. They are the leaders of this team, and we need each of them to play well for us to be successful.”
Greg Renfroe and Bryan Adams, expected to share time at center, produced 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
Renfroe, 6-foot-8 freshman coming off a redshirt season, tallied 12 points. His first two field goals were dunks off passes from Addison and R.J. Leverette and he added a second-half dunk after a steal by Addison.
Adams, 6-7 junior who transferred from William Jewell, had four points, and while his dunk early in the second half wasn’t from the same altitude as former Lion Jason Adams, it still brought a roar from the crowd.
Talbert grabbed the defensive rebound and got the ball to Leverette in the middle of the floor. Leverette quickly threw to Everson running down the left side, and Everson passed crosscourt to Adams breaking down the right side on the lane for the one-handed slam.
“I don’t think that one will be on ESPN,” Corn quipped. “It was a good dunk though.”
The Lions shot 50 percent (33-of-66) from the floor and outrebounded the Golden Eagles 45-27. The Lions also had 20 assists, led by Leverette with seven.
“We have to share the ball to be successful,” Talbert said. “We have a lot of unselfish players. We like to see each other succeed on the floor because we know how much work we put in.”
Addison scored 11 points in the first 61⁄2 minutes as the Lions jumped out to an 18-2 lead. Talbert later scored eight points during a four-minute stretch midway through the first half, and Matt Everson, Renfroe and Addison had four points apiece as the Lions, ahead 37-20 at halftime, began the second half with an 18-4 burst.
“I thought we played good in spurts, and I thought we struggled at other times,” Corn said. “I felt like our defense was pretty solid. When we were able to get stops, our offense was much smoother and we were able to push the ball down the floor and get in things quickly. Their zone bothered us. That’s something we have to do a better job against.”
Guard Kent High scored 12 points off the bench to lead John Brown (4-1), which is No. 18 in the NAIA poll.