Columbia, MO – Laurence Bowers poured in 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds as No. 15 Missouri dropped SIU-Edwardsville, 83-69, in the season opener for both teams.
Phil Pressey scored 19 points to go with nine assists and five boards, while Negus Webster-Chan contributed 11 points off the bench for Missouri (1-0), which went 30-5 last year, earning a No. 2 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament before being upset by No. 15 seed Norfolk State.
"I'm just trying to do what the team needs me to do," freshman Webster-Chan said. "If they need me to make shots I'm going to make shots."
Jerome Jones drained five 3-pointers en route to a team-high 17 points for SIU-Edwardsville (0-1), which played its inaugural season as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference last year, and went 10-17 overall.
Michael Messer scored 13 points off the bench, while Kris Davis and Maurice Wiltz scored 11 points apiece in the setback.
The game remained close for the majority of the first half with the Cougars holding a 13-12 advantage and 12:29 remaining on the first half clock.
A layup by Jones extended the SIU lead to six, but the Tigers battled back with a mini 9-5 push to cut the deficit to 23-21 with 8:39 left in the opening stanza.
A Jones 3-pointer extended the lead back to five, but Missouri responded with eight straight points to take the lead at 29-26 with six minutes to play.
Jones drained another trey with 3:27 left to make it a 33-29 SIU lead, but the Tigers offense finally awoke and they began to pull away late in the half.
Earnest Ross hit 1-of-2 from the line to ignite Missouri on an 11-1 run to close out the first half with a 40-34 lead.
Missouri put the game away by opening the second half with a 22-8 run over the first seven-plus minutes of the half. Bowers capped the sprint with a monster slam, giving the Tigers a comfortable 62-42 advantage with 12:57 to play.
"We had 20 assists tonight," Missouri coach Frank Haith remarked. "You know, you go out and have 20 assists in a ball game, that's pretty impressive."
The Tigers led by double digits the rest of the way, en route to an easy victory.
Missouri improved to 68-4 at Missouri Arena since the 2008-09 season ... The Tigers shot 47.1 percent from the floor and held SIU to just 33.3 percent ... Missouri outrebounded SIU, 50-40.