COLUMBIA, Mo. - Laurence Bowers had 20 points and seven rebounds in his return from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last season, leading No. 15 Missouri to an 83-69 season-opening victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday.
Bowers outscored the Cougars 10-2 by himself during a two-minute stretch early in the second half for the Tigers, who are ranked to start the season for a third straight year.
Phil Pressey scored 13 of his 19 points in the first half and Alex Oriakhi, part of a strong transfer class, had 15 rebounds and eight points for Missouri.
Jerome Jones hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points for SIU Edwardsville, which was held to 33 percent shooting. Reserve Michael Messer added 13 points but Mark Yelovich, the Cougars' top returning scorer, was held scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting with four fouls.
Missouri won its 66th in a row at home against non-conference opponents since the end of the 2005-06 season without guard Michael Dixon, who is suspended for violating team rules. Dixon, perhaps the best sixth man in the nation for last season's 30-win team, also did not dress in both exhibitions.
The Tigers won their home opener for the 38th time in 39 seasons in front of a late-arriving crowd of 10,054, many likely watching the Missouri football team's overtime victory at Tennessee that ended about 45 minutes before tip-off.
Freshman Negus Webster-Chan hit all three of Missouri's 3-pointers in the first half, the last two coming over the final 2 1/2 minutes to help build a 40-34 lead. The Tigers trailed most of the half, getting their first lead at 27-26 on Webster-Chan's 3-pointer from the corner off a feed from Pressey with about 6 1/2 minutes to go.
Missouri took its largest lead of the game after outscoring SIU Edwardsville 7-0 over the final 2:55.
SIU Edwardsville came out firing from long range, hitting six of its first 14 3-point attempts. Jones tied his career high with four 3-pointers in the half and had 14 points, bettering last year's 12.7-point average.
The Cougars led by as many as six in the first half without any contribution from Kris Davis, who led the nation with a 60-percent 3-point percentage but sat out the final 18:47 of the half after picking up two quick fouls. He finished with 11 points.
SIU Edwardsville was 10-17 last season, its first in the Ohio Valley Conference, and is among just six Division-I schools with no freshmen. The school is 0-4 against current members of the SEC and 0-5 against Top 25 teams.