By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
For the most part on Saturday it was the Lions of Missouri Southern past against the Lions of Missouri Southern present on the court at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
Missouri Southern, looking to knock loose some Christmas-break rust before picking the season back up next week, rolled to an 83-62 exhibition win over a Livin’ The Dream squad that boasted five former Lions players on its roster.
The game was Southern’s first in three weeks and served as a warm up of sorts before the Lions return to MIAA play on Thursday by hosting Northwest Missouri.
“I’m glad we had this game today and we didn’t have to come back and open up against Northwest because we had a hard time finishing some plays at times,” MSSU coach Robert Corn said. “And defensively we had some breakdowns. It was a good game to get out of the way because we know we’re going to play better.”
Livin’ The Dream put all five of its former MSSU players in the starting lineup and took a 5-0 lead on Chris Scruggs’ jumper and Patrick Hester’s 3-pointer.
MSSU then scored 12 of the next 13 points and never let go of the lead.
LTD stuck around for much of the first half, using a 9-1 run to cut what was a 16-point MSSU lead to 32-24 with 4:57 left in the opening half.
But the Lions ended the half on a 12-3 run — including six points from Jordan Talbert — to take a 17-point lead into the break.
Talbert scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds for the Lions. He was second on the team in scoring behind Marquis Addison’s 22 points while Stephen Atkinson added 10.
“I felt pretty good,” Talbert said. “I just really wanted to set the tone for us and let the team know that we’re back on the grind.”
The Lions controlled the second half, leading by as many as 26 points before LTD made some noise late and cut the lead to 14.
“We got sloppy with the ball a few times when the shot clock was winding down,” Corn said. “I thought we played pretty selfish there for a few possessions instead of moving the ball. Those are the areas that this game was good for.
“The margin between winning and losing in the MIAA is so small, you can’t have those types of breakdowns and hope to be successful.”
Hester, along with T.J. Williams, made a return trip to the Leggett & Platt Athletic center after playing for the Lions just last season.
Hester led Livin’ The Dream with 16 points and hit four of his seven 3-pointers, showing that he hasn’t lost his shooting touch after a year away.
“Oh it’s still there. It doesn’t leave,” he said. “I get to the gym a little but, but not like I was able to before. Once you get it, it doesn’t leave too quickly.
“This was a blast. I’ve been talking about it all week, texting Marcus and Jordan and all of them, telling them how bad I was going to do them. It was a lot of fun.”
T.J. Britton, another former Lions, added 13 points for Livin’ the Dream.
The Lions take a 6-3 overall record and a 1-0 MIAA mark into Thursday’s game against Northwest Missouri.
“They look good,” Hester said, sizing up his former team. “They’re obviously a young team but they’re getting better as the season progresses. That’s the key. It seems like they’re making some defensive gains. I wish them the best of luck the rest of the year.”