by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
What was supposed to be an evenly-matched and high-scoring final for the CBE Classic quickly turned into a laugher as No. 21 Missouri ran all over No. 20 California for an easy 92-53 victory.
The Tigers jumped out to a 19-point halftime lead and kept pouring it on, outscoring the Golden Bears by 20 points in the second half. Senior Kim English’s 19 points led a veteran Missouri squad that had five players in double figures. The Tigers’ starting lineup outscored California 64 to 35.
The win shows that the Big 12 is shaping up to be a three-team race between Baylor, Kansas and Missouri. The Tigers have perhaps been most impressive of them all so far, starting 5-0, outscoring their opponents by an average of 26.4 ppg and already notching two quality wins over California and Notre Dame.
New head coach Frank Haith has been able to get his players to follow his lead from the very beginning.
“The kids are buying in and that’s great to see. We understand we have to stay hungry. It’s a marathon – this is coach-speak now – it’s not a sprint,” Haith said. “As long as our guys understand the focus, there are things we have to work on, we’ve got a chance. No doubt about it.”
Playing just one freshman in the rotation, Missouri is one of the most experienced teams in the country. With no more ranked opponents on the schedule until conference play, the Tigers could begin its quest for a Big 12 title as a top-10 team.