Missouri Southern’s 110-46 men’s basketball victory over Culver-Stockton on Friday night at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center was just what the doctor ordered.
In the final tuneup before MIAA play begins on Tuesday, the No. 15 Lions hit their first five shots and built a 13-0 lead in the first four minutes as all five starters contributed to the scoring.
And they were active on defense as the Wildcats missed three shots and turned the ball over five times.
“We did what we should have done,” senior guard Kinzer Lambert said. “We took care of business. We were locked in mentally and physically like Coach always says. Sometimes those games are harder to play because the competition isn’t as good, but we did what we were supposed to do.”
“Coach (Roy) Williams always called the exhibition games glorified practices, and it was an exhibition game for them,” Lions coach Jeff Boschee said. “I was proud of the way our guys played for the whole 40 minutes. There were little mishaps here and there, but that happens every game. But for us to come out in the first half and win the first half the way we did, then the second half usually you have a letdown and I don’t think we had a letdown. That’s a big compliment to our starting five and our veterans to get the job done like that.”
The Lions (5-1) shot 54 percent while building a 49-16 halftime lead and improved to 64 percent in the second half, finishing 40-of-68 for 59 percent.
The Lions began the second half with a couple of highlight-reel plays. Lambert blocked a shot on the low block, then moments later drove from the right wing for a two-handed dunk.
“I could have shot the 3, but I lift-faked,” Lambert said. “I’ve been working on that a lot. Coach McMahon is really big on that ... shot fake, shot fake. But it works. I got him, and it was like the Red Sea opened up and I dunked it.”
On the next trip up the floor, Reggie Tharp used a behind-the-back dribble to elude a defender, then went across the lane for a reverse layup.
The Lions continued to pull away, and consecutive 3-pointers by Dexter Frisbie from the top of the key — his third in 45 career games — and Aleksa Markovic from in front of the Lions’ bench — his first — put the Lions at 100 points with 2:58 remaining.
Ironically, Elyjah Clark, who holds most of the Lions’ 3-point records, went 0-for-3 from the arc, ending a streak of 37 games with at least one trey, dating back to the 2018-19 season opener.
Just like in the Lions’ home opener 12 days ago, all 13 players figured in the scoring.
Cam Martin led the way with 17 points in 20 minutes, and Lambert finished with 16 points in 17 minutes. Freshmen guards Kyle Younge and Winston Dessesow scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench, and point guard Reggie Tharp added 10.
“It was good to see some of our young guys get in there,” Boschee said. “Kyle was good, took care of the basketball, rebounded the ball and shot the basketball well. And it was good to see Dexter get in and hit that 3.”
Mason Vires and Troy Green each had 10 points for Culver-Stockton (2-6), a member of the NAIA Heart of America Conference.
The Wildcats’ 46 points were the fewest scored against the Lions since MSSU’s 88-47 victory over Avila on Nov. 18, 2011, at Pittsburg State.
“We did some of the things we’ve been working on in practice and some of the things we did at Upper Iowa ... playing with pace and defensively being aggressive,” Boschee said. “Being able to guard our man, keeping our guy in front, and if we do get beat, we had somebody in the gaps to deflect the basketball.”
The Lions tip off MIAA play Tuesday night at home against Pittsburg State.