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January 14, 2009

Without Lyons, pressure on Tigers

Not much went well for Missouri last weekend at Nebraska. But if there was a positive to be taken out of the 56-51 loss, Leo Lyons played well in the second half. After sitting on the bench for much of the first frame with two fouls, Lyons scored 12 second half points and, at times, took over the game against Nebraska. But any good feelings about Lyons play were destroyed by noon on Monday. That's when the news came out that Lyons had been suspended for the Tigers' next game against Colorado, featuring a traffic stop that led to Lyons' arrest on a ticket that had not been paid from 2006.

"Pending on what takes place between now and then, I'll make my decision as to other games," Mike Anderson said.

"I look at it as either a reality check or he just comes back and is passive. I think he understands the sense of urgency. You could tell in practice today, he came out and tried to go hard," said DeMarre Carroll, both Lyons' roommate and his frontcourt running mate. "I think he's grown up and matured in that area. I think he's going to come back and do what he needs to do."

But certainly the Tigers will be without their second-leading scorer, and their most potent offensive weapon, against the Buffaloes. The Cornhuskers frustrated the Tigers' ability to get the ball inside, and that was with Lyons on the floor. Missouri knows what the game plan will be on Wednesday night, with Carroll as the only proven frontcourt player on the floor.

"Colorado's going to watch the Nebraska tape. Every other team we play is gonna watch that tape," Matt Lawrence said. "They're going to say that if you cut those guys off inside, you force them to make shots and they can't do it."

Missouri was just 5-for-21 behind the three-point line against Nebraska. They are shooting 35% as a team from three-point range. If numbers like that continue, the Tigers become relatively easy to defend.

"When I'm open, I'm going to have to knock it down. That's accountability," Lawrence said. "They count on me to knock down shots in the game so that's what I'm going to have to do. I'm going to get in and practice and start knocking them down and I know Zaire and J.T. are going to concentrate on getting to the basket a lot more too."

As for Lyons' replacement, Anderson said it will be "a game-time decision," but it is likely junior Keith Ramsey will get his first start.

"Now it's an opportunity for these guys, I think they've been playing well, to give them an opportunity to showcase what they can do," Anderson said. "Guys like Keith Ramsey, Laurence Bowers, Justin Safford. I think hopefully those guys will look forward to the challenge to show what they can do. They're a big part of our team so now they get an opportunity for even more playing time."

Someone else will have to pick up the slack on Wednesday night. But going forward, the Tigers know they need Lyons back in the fray.

"It's one of those lessons that's got to be learned, especially with him going forward into the world. You've got to take care of your business," Carroll said. "I think he'll grow from it and overcome, hopefully come back and produce the way we need him to."

Mizzou and Colorado tip off tonight at 8 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.


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