KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jabari Brown scored 23 points and Jordan Clarkson added 13 as Missouri defeated Hawaii 92-80 Saturday night in its first game at Kansas City's Sprint Center as members of the Southeastern Conference.
The Tigers' lead remained in single digits for most of the game until Wes Clark fed Ryan Rosburg with a nifty pass for a two-handed dunk and a 10-point lead with just less than 8 minutes remaining. It gave the crowd a dose of energy on a night when both teams struggled to put together any sort of momentum or extended run.
Moments later, Clark drilled a 3-pointer to extend the Tigers' lead to 13 points. Still, Hawaii's Garrett Nevels responded with a 3-pointer of his own. But the Rainbow Warriors couldn't get closer than 7 after that.
Rosburg emphatically ended Hawaii's upset bid with another dunk with 2 minutes remaining.
Christian Standhardinger led Hawaii with 22 points before fouling out. The Rainbow Warriors lost their fifth-straight game on the mainland.
The Tigers were playing in the Sprint Center for the first time since winning the 2012 Big 12 Tournament final against Baylor. That was Missouri's final game before bolting to the SEC. It was their sixth-straight victory in the venue.
Videos welcoming Missouri back to Kansas City from local business leaders and politicians were played on the video board during timeouts, but a chunk of empty seats littered the arena.
Hawaii made sure Missouri didn't have an easy return to its Big 12 roots. After trailing by one at the half, the Tigers used a quick 12-6 spurt to grab the lead early in the second half.
Just like in the first half, the Rainbow Warriors responded to both runs.
Hawaii wasn't as flashy as the Tigers, but they used timely 3-pointers and free throw shooting to take its halftime lead. The Rainbow Warriors outscored Missouri 16-6 from the free throw line in the first half before the Tigers scored a multitude of free throws to ice the game.
For most of second half, Hawaii stayed hot from the free-throw line, but it shot only 1 of 8 from 3-point range.
Missouri weathered Hawaii's attack by using penetration to drive the ball and then either kick out to an open guard for a 3-point attempt or to an open big man down low when help defense arrived on the ball. Missouri dominated the points in the paint 56-36.
The Tigers stayed undefeated in their third game without coach Frank Haith, who was suspended by the NCAA for five games for his role in the Nevin Shapiro scandal while Haith was the head coach at Miami. He is eligible to coach his first game of the season Nov. 28 against Northwestern.
Missouri held Isaac Fotu, who leads Hawaii in scoring with 16.7 points per game, to only 7 points, helping offset the other four Rainbow Warriors who scored in double figures.