Nov. 15, 2004
Columbia, Missouri - Coach Glen Miller's Brown men's basketball team battled to the final buzzer, giving Missouri all it could handle in its season opening game, before falling to the Tigers, 68-60, in the opening round of the Guardians Classic.
The Bears, who may be the youngest team in the country, were not intimidated by the opening of the sold-out 15,000 seat Paige Arena on the Missouri campus. Brown started a junior, three sophomores and a freshman, with its first five players off the bench being freshmen.
Brown's youth movement created strong ball movement that translated into open looks at the basket throughout, enabling the Bears to stay toe-to-toe with the Tigers of the Big-12 Conference.
Brown took an early 5-0 lead on a three-point basket by freshman Damon Huffman and a lay-up by sophomore Marcus Becker. The Bears fell behind by a 14-9 margin with 12:03 remaining in the half, but rallied to grab a 22-21 advantage on a jump shot by freshman Adolphe Coulibaly with 7:13 left in the first half.
The Bears pulled ahead of the Tigers, 24-21, at the 5:47 mark on a jump shot by junior Luke Ruscoe. Missouri pulled to within a point, 25-24, before Ruscoe gave Brown a five-point advantage, 28-23, on a three-point basket and a free throw.
Missouri battled back and led by four points late in the half, 33-29, but Ruscoe's three-point basket with 10 seconds left in the half drew the Bears to within one point of the Tigers, 33-32, at intermission.
The battle continued in the second half and the Bears trailed, 41-40, with 14:26 left in the game on a three-point basket by Huffman. Missouri outscored the Bears 8-0 and took its biggest lead of the game, 49-40, at the 12:00 mark on a trey by junior Jimmy McKinney. Huffman answered with a four-point play for the Bears to cut the Tigers' advantage to 49-44.
Missouri's 8-3 run gave the Tigers a 58-47 lead on a jump shot by Thomas Gardner with 7:09 to play.
The closest Brown could get down the stretch was six points, 60-54, when Coulibaly converted a three-point jumper with just 4:02 remaining in the game.
Huffman scored a team high 16 points for the Bears in his collegiate debut, converting 5 of 7 shots from three-point range. Ruscoe netted 14 points and grabbed a team high 10 rebounds. Coulibaly tossed in 11 points and pulled down five rebounds in his first collegiate game, hitting 3 of 3 three-point baskets.
Missouri was led by Thomas Gordon, who scored 19 points. Linas Kleiza added 16 points for the Tigers.
The Bears will face Sam Houston State today at 6:30 p.m. (EST) in the second round of the Guardians Classic. Sam Houston dropped a 72-69 decision to Houston in the first game Monday. Missouri and Houston will play at 9:00 p.m. tonight at the Paige Sports Center.