Western Michigan stays close at No. 24 Missouri

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins said he'd be comfortable eating his postgame pizza despite the outcome Sunday.

The Broncos lost 66-60 at No. 24 Missouri, but maintained a level of aggression that Hawkins said was missing from the team's last game, a 51-35 loss at Northwestern on Dec. 7.

"We were just completely out of sync," he said. "In this game, I felt like the kids were ready and we were aggressive but we just missed shots."

St. Louis native David Brown led Western Michigan (5-4) with 18 points and Shayne Whittington added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Brown leads the Mid-American Conference with 20.1 points per game, but has only totaled 44 points in his last three games on 28 percent shooting.

Charles Harris' 3-pointer with 10:46 remaining narrowed Western Michigan's deficit to 47-45 with 10:46 remaining. But the Broncos then yielded a 9-0 run that allowed Missouri to pull away.

"If we play aggressive we can play with any team," Brown said. "We proved that tonight playing against the No. 24-ranked team in the nation. If we play our brand of defense and attack the offensive end, we're a pretty tough ballclub."

Jabari Brown paced Missouri (10-0) with 15 points, while Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross both added 12, but the Tigers registered their lowest scoring output of the season.

Both Clarkson and Brown have reached double figures in each game this season, and rank first and fourth, respectively, in scoring in the Southeastern Conference.

The Tigers made 50 percent of their shots (23 of 46), but only scored two points during a seven-minute stretch in the first half before Clarkson hit one of two free throws with 3:47 before the break.

Missouri also committed nine turnovers and yielded five offensive rebounds in the first half to Western Michigan, which trailed 31-22 after 20 minutes despite shooting 9 of 34.

"When you win ballgames at a high level, you can't be turning the ball over, trying to get the ball inbounds," coach Frank Haith said. "And that's an area where we had some mishaps."

Western Michigan made 24.4 percent of its shots at Northwestern after a combined 55.5 percent performance against Cornell and Oakland in their previous two contests. The team finished at 30 percent (21 of 70) overall Sunday after only making 2 of 16 from 3-point range in the first half.

The Broncos started the second half on an 11-4 run to pull within 35-33, but couldn't quite catch Missouri. They fell to 3-2 all-time against teams currently in the SEC, but haven't defeated an SEC opponent since beating Auburn on Dec. 17, 2002.

"It would have been beneficial for everybody if we would have hit shots in the first half so we wouldn't have so much pressure on us in the second half," said Whittington, who recorded his fifth double-double of the season and leads the MAC with 11 rebounds per game.

Missouri's defense, though, continued its strong start to the season. The team has yet to allow an opponent to shoot better than 44.3 percent from the field this season, and only Hawaii has topped 71 points.

"It's good for us to have those type of games where we have to scrap it out to get it done," Haith said.

Missouri stretched its NCAA-best homecourt winning streak to 25 games and has won 80 straight games against nonconference opponents at Mizzou Arena dating to the 2005-06 opener.

Missouri now waits another six days to play its next game, the annual Braggin' Rights matchup in St. Louis against Illinois.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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