COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Kim Anderson says his team is a work in progress. But after a disappointing season opener, he can now rest a little easier after a 56-41 win against Valparaiso on Sunday.
"Friday night was an embarrassment, not to take anything away from" Missouri-Kansas City, the first-year Missouri coach said about his team's 69-61 loss. "To lose at home in your first game, I think our guys were somewhat tentative."
That tentativeness showed up again in the team's first half against Valparaiso, as the Tigers led 24-23 at the break despite no player converting more than one field goal. The team finally gained some separation with a 14-2 run to take a 41-29 lead with 9:47 remaining.
Valparaiso never could get closer than seven the rest of the way.
Wes Clark scored 16 points to lead Missouri (1-1) while Johnathan Williams III added 10.
Anderson thought his team started to play more aggressively in the second half by attacking the middle of the court, rather than simply passing around the perimeter. The Tigers made 10 of their first 18 shots after the break and finished 20 of 50 for the game.
"I think we're coming together more as a team," Williams said. "Just trying to learn about each other more and bond together as a team."
E. Victor Nickerson led Valparaiso (1-1) with 12 points while Alec Peters added seven. Peters earned All-Freshman honors in the Horizon League last year with 12.7 points per game, but only played 27 minutes against Missouri because of foul trouble.
Peters collected two fouls in the first 2:55 and then another with 6:06 left in the opening half. He added a fourth 4 1/2 minutes after the break.
"There's no question it took us out of what we wanted," Drew said.
Both teams started 3 of 13 from the field, preventing either from leading by more than five in the first half. But the Crusaders couldn't keep up in the closing half, as coach Bryce Drew said his team was "worn down" by Missouri's size.
"When you get tired, I think a lot of our shots became short at the end just from fatigue," he said. "I thought that definitely played a role in those last 10 minutes of the game."