January 6, 2009

Laurence, Lawrence highlight Tiger win

It took a while, but eventually Fang Mitchell and Coppin State found a way to defend Matt Lawrence. After making his first six shots from three-point range, the Missouri senior finally misfired on his seventh attempt from long range. But he had a good excuse.

"Got poked in the eye," Lawrence said. "The ref was joking like I just did that because I missed my first one."

On the bench, though, Lawrence had the red eye to prove it. In all, he ended the night with 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting from behind the arc in the Tigers' 88-55 win.

"He was in a zone tonight," Mike Anderson said. "He was shooting it from almost 30 feet out and it wasn't even hitting the rim. Sometimes there are nights like that."

But for all the Tigers' fireworks from deep, it was a much shorter shot that drew the night's biggest cheer from the 7,742 in attendance. Lawrence lofted an alley-oop pass from just inside the free-throw line late in the first half. He intended to lead Laurence Bowers to the rim, but instead threw it about two feet behind the freshman forward.

"I threw him the worst pass of my life," Lawrence said.

"I didn't think I was going to catch it," Bowers admitted. "I just put my arm out there. I caught it. I was shocked myself."

But catch it he did. Bowers reached back with his left hand, grabbed the pass and threw down a thunderous dunk in one fluid motion. Before halftime, the jam was already being compared to Rickey Paulding's hurdling of a Kansas State defender or Keyon Dooling's (non) charge at Kansas.

As the crowd exploded and his teammates stared in disbelief, perhaps the most calm reaction to the play came from Bowers himself.

"If you watch the expression on his face, it's like he's done it before," Anderson said. "He has done it before."

All in all, a storybook finish to Missouri's best 15-game start since 1994-95.

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