COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Mark Smith scored a season-high 23 points to lead Missouri to a 64-48 victory over Southern Illinois on Sunday.
Smith led the Southeastern Conference in 3-point accuracy last year, shooting 45%. He had been hit-or-miss this season, entering Sunday’s game making 35.1% of his 3s, but he made 7 of 9 shots from beyond the arc against the Salukis.
Javon Pickett came off the bench to score 13 for Missouri (6-4) in his second straight double-figure scoring game. Eric McGill led Southern Illinois (4-7) with 11 points.
Smith broke open a close game midway through the first half by hitting four straight 3-pointers. On the last one, he pulled up on a fast break and kept his right hand extended as the ball swished through the net, giving Missouri a 21-9 lead and forcing a Southern Illinois timeout. McGill hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut Missouri’s lead to 33-22 at halftime.
The Tigers’ lead grew to 56-31 with 9:12 left in the game when Smith sank his sixth 3-pointer. Missouri held the Salukis to 29.4% shooting and outrebounded them 37-21. SIU made just 10 field goals in the game.
Southern Illinois: Ronnie Suggs scored four points in his return to the arena he called home for the last two years. Suggs began his career at Bradley, transferred to Missouri as a walk-on after his sophomore year, sat out one year per NCAA rules and then played in 27 games for the Tigers last season. He moved on to Southern Illinois as a graduate transfer for this season. Suggs missed the first four games because of injury but has started the last seven.
Missouri: With a winter storm dropping snow, and the students out of town on holiday break, Mizzou Arena was almost empty and hushed Sunday. The atmosphere will be dramatically different on Saturday when Missouri and Illinois fans will fill the Enterprise Center in St. Louis for the annual Braggin’ Rights rivalry game. The Tigers ended a five-year losing streak against the Illini last year.
Southern Illinois: The Salukis play Hampton on Wednesday at home.
Missouri: The Tigers play Illinois on Saturday in St. Louis.