Missouri guard Mark Smith scored 19 points, leading the Tigers to a 71-56 victory over Northern Kentucky on Friday night in Columbia, Mo.
Smith had 15 first-half points, helping Missouri to a lead it never relinquished. The Tigers’ defense held Northern Kentucky to 37.3 percent shooting.
Missouri forward Jeremiah Tilmon scored 13 on 5-for-6 shooting, while forwards Mitchell Smith and Kobe Brown each had career highs with 10 points each.
Guard Tyler Sharpe (18) led the Norse (1-1) in scoring, with forward Silas Adheke and guard Trevon Faulkner each adding 10.
Norse guard Jalen Tate, a preseason first-team All-Horizon League pick who averaged 13.7 points per game last year, didn’t score until he hit a short jumper with 5:21 left. He finished with four points on 1-for-4 shooting.
The Tigers (2-0) consistently expanded their lead throughout the second half as Missouri stifled the Norse both from 3-point range and inside.
Mark Smith’s open 3 with 17:50 left, coming in the Tigers’ half-court offense after a Brown steal, gave Missouri a 43-34 lead, its largest to that point.
Another Smith 3, this one on a fast break after guard Xavier Pinson got a strip-steal of Sharpe, put the Tigers up 50-39 with 15:02 remaining.
Guard Dru Smith gave Missouri its first 20-point lead when a driving layup with 9:23 left put the Tigers up 60-39. The Norse never got within single digits again.
Both teams struggled in their half-court offenses for long stretches of the first half, but Mark Smith helped the Tigers grab an early 10-7 lead. His 14th and 15th points - two free throws with 3:22 left in the half — put the Tigers up 29-24.
Mark Smith suffered an ankle injury in late January last season that cost him most of the rest of the year. He was the Tigers’ second-leading scorer (11.4), shooting 45 percent at the time of the injury. He played 24 minutes and failed to score in this year’s opener against Incarnate Word.
—Field Level Media