The return of Laurence Bowers to the basketball court was highly anticipated among Missouri fans, especially when considering the fact that they Tigers had just one true interior player on last season’s Big 12 tournament champion squad.
That group fell to Norfolk State in the NCAA tournament, and it’s difficult to think that Bowers wouldn’t have had an impact alongside Ricardo Ratliffe in 2011-12.
Bowers is making up for lost time in his fifth season with averages of 16.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and the Memphis native scored 19 points and grabbed ten rebounds in Missouri’s 78-70 win over Stanford in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Bowers scored 13 of his 19 in the second half and point guard Phil Pressey added 18 and eight assists, and four players reached double figures to help Missouri survive shooting 36.6% from the field.
Missouri was even worse from beyond the arc, where they made just four of their nineteen attempts, and Earnest Ross shot a frigid 3-of-19 from the field. It was obvious that the Tigers miss their two best shooters in Michael Dixon Jr. and Jabari Brown.
While Brown, who transferred in from Oregon, won’t be eligible until the end of the semester the suspended Dixon Jr. did make the trip to the Bahamas and there’s the thought that he may be able to play this weekend.
But even with the issues shooting the basketball the fact that Missouri grabbed 16 offensive rebounds (Ross grabbed seven) and won the battle on the boards is an encouraging sign.
Stanford’s Chasson Randle led all scorers with 22 points and Dwight Powell added 18 and ten rebounds, but the Cardinal’s perimeter shooting (6-of-26 3PT) did them no favors against the Tigers.
Missouri next plays the winner of No. 2 Louisville and Northern Iowa, and if the Cardinals win that would set up an interesting match-up between Missouri assistant Tim Fuller and his former boss (also, freshman Negus Webster-Chan was originally a Louisville commit).
While it is too early to make a definitive judgment on Missouri given the fact that they aren’t whole, there’s no denying what the return of Bowers means inside. Welcoming him back and adding newcomers Alex Oriakhi and Ryan Rossburg gives Frank Haith something he was in desperate need of last season: interior depth.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.