COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou Men’s Basketball (4-3) used excellent rebounding and a huge defensive stop in the final seconds to earn a 59-56 victory over Western Kentucky (3-5) on Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena. Western Kentucky had the ball, down by one point with 21 seconds remaining, but the defense held up to give Mizzou its fourth win of the season. Mizzou set a new season-high for rebounds in a game, outrebounding the Hilltoppers, 44-30, including 14 offensive rebounds in the win.
Freshman guard Frankie Hughes (Cleveland, Ohio) led the team in points for the third time this season with 18. Hughes made three shots from beyond the arc and added a couple of monstrous slam dunks in the second half to score in double-digits for the fifth time this year. Hughes also went 5-of-6 from the free throw line (83.3 percent), his best performance from the charity stripe this season.
Sophomore guard Terrence Phillips (Orange County, Calif.) pulled in a season-high eight rebounds while dishing out a team high five assists and scoring six points. This was the first game of the season for Phillips to lead the team in rebounding. He was joined by senior forward Russell Woods (Chicago, Ill.), who also recorded eight boards. Woods had one of his best offensive games of the season, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting (66.7 percent), the second game of his career he has scored in double-digits.
Defense was a serious factor for Mizzou as the team forced 15 turnovers, leading to 17 points. Sophomore guard Cullen VanLeer (Pacific, Mo.) set a new career-high in steals with three of Mizzou’s season-high 10 steals. The effort was the second time this season Mizzou has recorded 10 steals this season (Nov. 20 vs. Tulane).
The first half was a back-and-forth affair as the lead changed hands eight different times. Hughes played some of his best basketball as a Tiger in the final ten minutes of the first half, racking up 14 points and four rebounds. With Mizzou down 15-14, Hughes scored 14 of the next 16 points thanks to three three-pointers and 5-of-6 makes from the free-throw line.
Hughes’ shooting performance sparked Mizzou as the squad finished the first half on a 7-0 run, keeping Western Kentucky off the scoreboard for the final 3:02 of the first half.