COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Jordan Clarkson scored a career-high 31 points and Jabari Brown added 17 to lift Missouri past Southern Illinois 72-59 Tuesday night.
Clarkson, Brown and Earnest Ross combined for 59 points as the rest of the Tigers only shot 5-of-11 from the field. After trading baskets through the first half, the Tigers (2-0) used a 10-4 run in the opening 3:32 after the break for a 45-38 lead and some breathing room.
Missouri won its 20th consecutive game at home, this time in front of a half-filled Mizzou Arena after a late tip time. The Tigers haven't lost to a non-conference opponent on their own floor since the 2005-06 opener, a span of 75 games.
Desmar Jackson led Southern Illinois (0-1) with 17 points in the team's season opener. The senior guard scored the Salukis' first eight points, but battled foul trouble the rest of the game.
Missouri appeared sluggish in the early going after an 89-53 victory against Southeastern Louisiana on Friday. Clarkson led all scorers with 12 points at halftime, but reached another gear midway through the second half; at one point scoring six in a row for the Tigers to give them a 56-45 lead with 9:12 remaining.
Clarkson sat out last season after transferring from Tulsa, where he averaged 14.2 points and 2.3 assists over two years. An all-Conference USA selection in 2011-12, the junior guard will run the point this year for Missouri after the departure of Phil Pressey to the NBA.
After shooting 55.6 percent from the free throw line in its opener, Missouri made 17 of its 27 attempts Tuesday from the charity stripe, but Southern Illinois only managed to shoot 3-of-9 from the line.
Bronson Verhines added eight points for the Salukis, who were picked to finish eighth out of 10 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference under second-year coach Barry Hinson. Anthony Beane scored six points on 3-of-12 shooting after missing the team's second exhibition game Friday against William Jewell. Both Beane and Jackson arrived late to the game, prompting Hinson to bench them.
A 3-pointer by Mike Balogun with 31 seconds left in the first half gave Southern Illinois a 34-33 lead, prompting the team's bench to jump repeatedly in excitement. But Clarkson drove through the lane for a dunk with four seconds remaining to give Missouri the lead at the break.