More of the same

Alex Oriakhi, top, pulls down a rebound during the first half of Missouri's 68-38 win over Tennessee State.

COLUMBIA --- We usually get re-runs in the summer.

Missouri is giving us plenty of them as we roll into winter.

A lethargic, often hard-to-watch first half against a bad team, followed by a sharp second half and a blowout win.

We've seen this.

It was more of the same Saturday, as the No. 12 Tigers outscored the Tennessee State Tigers (TSU) 45-18 in the second half to pull away for a 68-38 win before an announced crowd of 10,338 at Mizzou Arena.

From moans and groans to oohs and aahs, once again.

"We played defense the whole night," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "I thought offensively, we had some really bad turnovers in the first half and took our eyes off the ball. We couldn't get any rhythm going offensively.

"They sagged off of us and we couldn't make any shots, which made us look kind of sluggish."

The Tigers (8-1) --- who won their 71st home game against non-conference opponents --- committed 11 turnovers in the first half and led TSU (4-6) only 23-20 at the break.

Here's a quick look at TSU: They stink.

These Tigers have lost to South Dakota State, Georgia State and Monmouth, but they did beat Fisk. (Rumor has it, this was a 5-on-1 game against Baseball Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, but these rumors have yet to be confirmed.)

Missouri has consistently struggled in the first half against a series of "state" schools that aren't really states. Alcorn, Nichols, Appalachian.

At least we can find Tennessee on a map.

Laurence Bowers, as he's done in most of these games, was once again a shining star in the first half for the Tigers. The senior was 7-of-13 from the field --- the rest of the team was 2-of-12 --- and scored 15 of his game-high 18 points to help the Tigers keep their heads above water.

The inevitable second-half blowout then developed --- Missouri opened with a 14-3 run to build a 37-23 lead with 12 1/2 minutes left and never looked back.

Freshman Stefan Jankovic --- after not playing Tuesday night against Southeast Missouri and sitting out the first half Saturday --- came off the bench to score 14 points and grab five rebounds to key the second-half surge.

"That's the key, you have to stay ready," Haith said. "You never know when your number is going to be called. In the second half, I told him to be ready.

"Obviously, he's a 6-11 guy and he has great skills, he can pass and he can shoot the ball (4-of-7, including two 3-pointers). The way they were playing us defensively, I thought he could get some good open looks."

Bowers also grabbed 10 rebounds to notch a double-double, as did Alex Oriakhi, who had 15 points and 10 boards.

This will be a theme this season --- a lot of big guys getting a lot of rebounds --- as this MU team is 180 degrees different from last year's team.

It's like comparing night and day, hot and cold, the most beautiful woman in the world to Roseanne Barr.

Last year's team consisted of four guards and one power forward. They were quick, they could shoot and handle the ball, but couldn't rebound.

This year's team consists of four power forwards and one guard. Not much quickness, not very good shooters or ball handlers, but can they rebound.

That's the long and the short of it.

Saturday, the Tigers held a whopping 52-27 advantage on the boards.

"That's who we are right now, and I think I sound like a broken record when I keep saying this," Haith said. "We are a team right now that has to rebound and play defense to win.

"We have got to be consistent with that, and I think we have been."

They've been consistent with their inconsistency, as well.