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December 7, 2008When he first took the head coaching job at Missouri, Mike Anderson grew fond of saying his team was playing 15 minutes of hell and 25 minutes of what the hell? On Sunday afternoon against Cal, eight games into Anderson's third season, the Tigers may have come as close as ever to putting together that full 40 minutes.
Missouri ran Cal out of Mizzou Arena 93-66. The Tigers used an 18-0 run to jump to a 27-8 lead. Cal briefly drew within 11 points at halftime. Missouri then blitzed the Bears out of the locker room, putting the margin back over 20 by the first television timeout.
"We've done it in bits and pieces," Anderson said. "We're getting a little bit more consistent."
The opposing coach was even more complimentary.
"They were really ready to play," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery. "They were faster, more aggressive than anybody we've seen so far...and we didn't handle it very well."
The Tigers got contributions from all over. DeMarre Carroll had 19 points and Leo Lyons 18. Freshman guards Marcus Denmon and Kim English had 14 and 16. J.T. Tiller handed out seven assists and Anderson credited Zaire Taylor with holding Cal's leading scorer, Jerome Randle, to 15 points.
"They are really playing well together," Montgomery said. "They understand their roles."
"In my opinion," Carroll said, "We are the most unselfish team in the country."
Such hyperbole was believable after the most dominant performance of a 7-and-1 start for the Tigers. There was much talk of Missouri holding a grudge for surrendering a halftime lead and losing to the Bears last year in California. Whatever got them going, it worked.
"It's just a mindset. Going into the game, you either want to do it or you don't," Carroll said. "We wanted to show California we were the tougher team."
"They outplayed us, they outhustled us, they outrebounded us," Randle said. "They beat us in every facet of the game."
Missouri returns to the court next Saturday against Murray State.