COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Missouri completed a perfect December, beating Morehead State 75-61 at Mizzou Arena for its sixth straight victory.
Mark Smith led the Tigers (9-3) with 22 points, Jordan Geist scored 20 and Kevin Puryear added 12 points and eight rebounds.
A.J. Hicks led Morehead State (4-9) with 18 points, Jordan Walker added 12 and Lamontray Harris finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Missouri established control early, taking a 28-point lead on a Geist 3-pointer with 7:35 left in the first half. The Eagles trailed 45-22 at halftime, but they worked their way back into the game early in the second half.
Hicks made a 3-pointer with 8:30 remaining to cut the deficit to 59-51. But a dead-ball technical foul on Hicks with 5:33 left helped Missouri regain firm control. After Geist made two free throws, Missouri was awarded the ball and Torrence Watson scored off an offensive rebound to give the Tigers a 67-53 lead.
Morehead State: Hicks has been one of the nation’s better distributors. He entered the game averaging 5.5 assists, which ranked 46th nationally. Hicks finished with four assists against Missouri as he took on more of a scoring role.
Missouri: The big early lead and Jeremiah Tilmon’s foul trouble gave Coach Cuonzo Martin a chance to give sophomore forward K.J. Santos extended minutes. Santos, a sophomore transfer from Illinois-Chicago, had played a total of 12 minutes this season while he battled a foot injury. He logged 20 minutes, scored two points – his first of the season – and grabbed four rebounds.
Missouri: The Tigers will take an extended break before opening Southeastern Conference play at home against Tennessee on Jan. 8.
Morehead State: The Eagles open Ohio Valley Conference play on Thursday at Murray State.