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Missouri defense too much for Georgia in 83-76 win

ATHENS - Mike Anderson was encouraged to see his Missouri team force Georgia to commit 23 turnovers, but he said the best news was what happened next.

'I thought the defense caused problems for Georgia, but the great thing about those turnovers we made happen was we converted those into points,' Anderson said.

Missouri outscored Georgia 30-14 in points off turnovers and beat the Bulldogs 83-76 on Saturday for the Tigers' best start in 10 years.

Missouri (12-2) has its best record after 14 games since a 12-2 start in 1998-99, coach Norm Stewart's last season.

DeMarre Carroll and Zaire Taylor each scored 17 points to lead the Tigers.

Missouri won its first non-conference game on an opponents' home court since Dec. 6, 2003, when the Tigers won at Indiana.

'We heard it from the older guys that they wanted to start off well on the road,' said Missouri freshman Marcus Denmon.

It was Missouri's first road win at a Southeastern Conference school since the Tigers won at Arkansas in 1991 when Anderson was an assistant coach with the Razorbacks. Missouri had lost five straight road games at SEC schools since 1991.

After playing and coaching under Nolan Richardson at Tulsa and Arkansas, Anderson has installed a similarly intense, up-tempo style. Just as defense set the pace in Richardson's '40 minutes of hell,' Missouri is among the nation's leaders in steals under in what Missouri calls the 'fastest 40 minutes in basketball.'

Missouri had 10 steals, including three by J.T. Tiller of Wheeler High School in Marietta. The Wheeler High team was part of a big turnout at Stegeman Coliseum for Tiller in his return to his home state.

Georgia (9-5) held its last lead at 46-45 early in the second half, but the Bulldogs wilted under Missouri's constant defensive pressure. Missouri took command with a 26-10 run for a 71-56 lead.

'With everybody in such good shape, we're going to keep beating a team down,' said Keith Ramsey, who had two steals and two blocked shots. 'It shows how tough we are that we can go win on the road.'

Georgia senior captain Terrance Woodbury made five 3-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points after missing four games with an ankle injury. Freshman and Wesleyan grad Trey Thompkins added 18 points.

Georgia point guards Zac Swansey and Dustin Ware combined for only three of the Bulldogs' 23 turnovers. Swansey had seven assists and two turnovers, but Corey Butler and Thompkins each committed four turnovers.

'It wasn't the first time we've had some trouble taking care of the ball against teams,' Felton said. 'We've got to do a better job at that.'

Turnovers also were problems in two other recent losses for Georgia. The Bulldogs had 27 turnovers against Illinois and 25 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Taylor said Anderson predicted Georgia players would try to match Missouri's up-tempo style.

'That's what coach said, the way we play, most guys kind of take offense when their coach says 'slow it down,' Taylor said.

After trailing by 15, Georgia cut the Missouri lead to 77-72 with a basket by freshman Travis Leslie with 44 seconds left. Carroll answered with a quick fast-break layup for the Tigers.

Leo Lyons had 12 points and led the Tigers with six rebounds. Tiller and Matt Lawrence, who had three 3-pointers, each had 10 points.

Leslie had 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds in only 18 minutes.

Georgia lost despite shooting 51.7 percent from the field and taking a 38-30 advantage in rebounds.

'Overall, I like a lot of what we did,' Felton said. 'We knew what we were facing. We just have to hold our composure throughout the game. We came up a little short.'