COLUMBIA — For the first 25 minutes of Monday night's game, the Wofford Terriers looked every bit the veteran, efficient and sharp-shooting team that rode a 21-game winning streak through conference play and into the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
Then, their offense disappeared from the radar entirely.
Missouri turned in another stellar defensive effort to defeat Wofford 75-56 at Mizzou Arena, as the defense held the Terriers scoreless for a stretch 6:41 in the second half. Wofford did not make a field goal in the final 14:35 of the game.
One of the Tigers' pregame keys was to make the Terriers win the game with their legs, and Wofford played just four subs off the bench for a combined 48 minutes.
"I think we have the team that's built to defend like that," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said after the win. "The biggest key is simply taking pride in what it means to be an elite defensive team, because that's our goal. I think (sports information director) R.J. (Layton) gave me a stat, it's the first time we've held an opponent to 63 or fewer points in four consecutive games since 1951-52. That's impressive."
Missouri (3-1) led 36-31 at halftime, though it was somewhat sloppy, as the Tigers had seven turnovers in the first 15 minutes.
The Terriers took a 41-38 lead out of the break, and Nathan Hoover, one of the sparks of the team's postseason run last season, hit a jumper with 14:35 to go and then a pair of free throws to tie the game at 45 with 13:34 remaining.
The Tigers responded with a 13-0 run during the next six minutes, powered as much by their defense as their offense, and Wofford's last 11 points of the game all came from the foul line. Missouri finished the game with 10 total turnovers.
"I wouldn't say it's (our) best game of the year, I just feel like we know how it is to lose," Missouri forward Jeremiah Tilmon said. "You never know when your next win is. Coach Martin says it so much, you never know when your next win is, so take advantage. I feel like we went out on the court and just gave it our all."
Mark Smith shot 50 percent from the floor and 3-point range to lead the Tigers with 19 points. Tilmon scored 16 points and committed just two fouls in 26 minutes on the court, and flashed his range: his first points of the night came on a 3-pointer from the top of the key, his first 3 in a Missouri uniform.
Tilmon shot 6-of-7 from the floor, his only miss an elbow jumper, and was 3-of-3 on dunks.
Xavier Pinson added 10 points and showed his continued growth: he knocked two steals loose and finished them with an and-1 through contact and a dunk, respectively, and added his usual flair at the point guard spot with passing, finishing with four assists and four turnovers.
Former walk-on Parker Braun played 10 minutes and, at least Monday night, was the clear backup to Tilmon at the five, as Reed Nikko played just one minute and Mitchell Smith and Tray Jackson did not play as a coach's decision.
Braun had four points, shooting 2-of-2 from the floor, with two rebounds, a block and a steal. His speed and athleticism were clearly an important factor in guarding a Wofford team that thrives on creating mismatches through switches and ball screens.
"He's an intelligent player," Martin said. "I think if he was probably 10 pounds heavier, then he's at a whole 'nother level, because he understands, he knows what's going on. He's an athlete, he can get to those two ball-screen guys because he's quick and he's athletic. He understands defense, he knows the angles, he knows how to switch off on ball screens, and he's one of our better low post guys offensively."
Martin and Braun's teammates credited the work during the last month and change that has helped elevate Braun to his current position.
"He plays so hard in practice and he gives us so much," Tilmon said. "He plays so hard, and he's never gonna go out there and be lackadaisical. When he got in the game, you could tell he wanted it."
Perhaps more importantly than the defensive effort for Missouri, which started the run-up to next week's Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City with a campus game win against Wofford (2-3), was finding a better feel for the 3-point shot as a team. Missouri entered Monday's game shooting 19-of-75 (25.3 percent) from beyond the arc and was 9-of-23 (39 percent) against the Terriers, including 6-of-12 in the first half.
The Tigers host Morehead State at 7 p.m. Wednesday in another Hall of Fame Classic campus game before taking on Butler at 6 p.m. Monday in Kansas City on ESPNU.
Butler defeated Wofford 80-61 on Saturday. Missouri would face Stanford or Oklahoma the following day to wrap up the Hall of Fame Classic.