Nov. 16, 2004
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Thomas Gardner had 19 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double double, helping Missouri pull away in the second half for a 68-60 victory over pesky Brown in the opening round of the Guardians Classic on Monday night.
The Tigers, who shot 35 percent in their first regular-season game in the new Paige Sports Arena, will play Houston in the second round on Tuesday night. Houston rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Sam Houston State 72-69 earlier Monday.
Linas Kleiza added 17 points and nine rebounds for Missouri, which trailed by five in the first half and struggled to adjust to Brown's 2-3 defense. The Tigers were 3-for-18 from 3-point range midway through the second half before finally starting to connect, finishing 7-for-26.
Missouri, 16-14 last season, is rebuilding without Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding.
Brown compensated for Forte's absence by going 11-for-21 from 3-point range. Huffman was 5-for-7 and Adolphe Coulibaly was 3-for-3 and added 11 points.
Gardner, a 6-5 guard, was 2-for-8 in the first half and missed all five of his 3-point attempts. He was 5-for-8 the rest of the way, including 3-for-5 from long range, and he also had four assists. He had five offensive rebounds.
Gardner and Jimmy McKinney hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Missouri, which led only 33-32 at halftime, a 49-40 lead with 12 minutes to go. Brown answered with a 3-pointer by Huffman with 11:15 left but never got any closer.
That was typical of Brown, which also quickly responded to Missouri's best play of the game. A steal and behind-the-back pass from Spencer Laurie to Glen Dandridge for a dunk put the Tigers ahead 33-29 with 40 seconds left in the first half, but Ruscoe, hardly rattled, hit a 3-pointer 16 seconds later.
Luke Ruscoe, the lone returning starter for Brown with Forte out, added 14 points.