COLUMBIA -- The Missouri Tigers made their free throws. Nearly all of them.
The Tigers shot 23-of-25 from the charity stripe Sunday afternoon to secure an 82-72 win against the Wichita State Shockers at Mizzou Arena.
“We did a tremendous job being physical, getting to that foul line and executing,” Missouri coach Dennis Gates said. “… That’s where the game is won.”
The Tigers led throughout in the win after a start Gates described was like they had been shot out of a cannon.
Nick Honor turned a steal into a second-chance 3 before Noah Carter hit the team’s first two free throws. Honor turned another turnover into a jumper before Carter hit a 3 off another turnover to put the Tigers up 10-0 with 16:03 left in the first half.
“We were able to do that defensively, which led to our lead,” Gates said.
Nonor totaled 15 points, while Carter had nine points and three rebounds.
Wichita State answered the opening run with a 7-0 run of its own to cut the lead, but as they would the rest of the night, the Tigers responded.
An Anthony Robinson layup and a Sean East 3, the first of his game-high 22 points, put the Tigers back up by eight.
The Shockers cut the lead to 18-15 after a Colby Rogers 3 from the top of the key, three of his team-high 17 points, but Missouri was able to break back out to a 24-15 lead after two Caleb Grill free throws, helping build his double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“I think it took a couple of games to get adjusted,” Grill said. “But now I feel comfortable with what’s going on.”
The Shockers cut the lead to 24-22 after a Kenny Pohto 3, off a Harlond Beverly assist, but the Tigers responded again, extending to a 29-22 lead after an Honor 3, one of his three makes from beyond the arc.
Back and forth the teams went, with Wichita State cutting within a possession or two and Missouri responding, but never building past a 10-point lead.
Pohto hit two free throws with 43 seconds left to cut the Tiger lead to 41-34 going into halftime.
“Every time there was a run, I thought our players responded with a big-time play,” Gates said.
Missouri extended to its biggest lead of the night early in the second half after Tamar Bates turned a steal into a fastbreak dunk with 18:22 left to put the Tigers up 45-34.
“Bates made a couple of big plays,” Gates said. “… Defensively, he ended up with three steals and I thought that fast break dunk ignited our crowd. He was able to bring us some stability out there whenever he was in.”
But the Shockers kept hanging around. A Isaac Abidde 3 cut Missouri’s lead to 51-48 with 13:03 left, but the Tigers responded again with East tossing a cross-court assist to Connor Vanover for a 3 from the right wing before driving and kicking the ball out to Grill for a left-wing 3 to put the Tigers up 57-50 with 12:11 left. East ended with a game-high nine assists.
“He knows when to give someone a shot,” Gates said. “… He’s the first one to tell certain guys to shoot the next one. He reads the game in a great way.”
Wichita State cut the lead as close as 68-66 with 3:51 left, but Grill responded with a 3 from the right corner off an East assist.
The Shockers cut it back to a three-point game and had a couple of looks from 3 to tie, but consecutive misses led the an East right-wing 3 off a Vanover assist to get back to a multi-possession lead with 2:13 left.
The Tigers extended back to a 10-point lead after two East free throws, then held off any remaining Wichita State comeback attempt.
Along with his 22 points and nine assists, East had four rebounds and three steals, helping build a 13-steal performance for the Tigers. Connor Vanover was the fourth Tiger to score in double figures, scoring 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting with four made free throws.
Missouri shot 24-of-60 (40 percent) overall and 11-of-33 (33.3 percent) beyond the arc to go with their 92-percent day at the free-throw line.
Four Shockers scored in double figures, with Colby Rogers leading the way at 17 points to go with four rebounds, while Beverly had 12 points and 17 boards. Abidde scored 11 points and Xavier Bell had 10.
Missouri forced 18 turnovers and dished out 15 assists on 24 made shots.
Missouri (6-2) is off for nearly a week before it hits the road Saturday to play at Kansas.