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.
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˝ 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˝ 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.