Archive for Saturday, December 9, 2006

MU’s Horton getting help in backcourt

December 9, 2006

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— After two seasons carrying the load as Missouri's ballhandler, Jason Horton welcomes the help he's now getting.

The junior guard averaged more than 30 minutes per game last season and handled the ball more than 800 minutes.

But help has arrived in the form of newcomer guards Stefhon Hannah, Keon Lawrence and J.T. Tiller.

Hannah and Horton have formed Missouri's starting backcourt, and Lawrence and Tiller have played significant minutes, too.

All four take turns pushing the ball in Missouri's fast-paced offense under new coach Mike Anderson.

"They're all guards that can create and handle the ball," Horton said. "Now I can run the floor and do other things."

As Missouri (9-0) prepares for its first road game of the season today at Purdue (7-1), Horton's points per game and assists are on pace with last year's, but his turnovers are down.

Anderson said the biggest difference between the Horton he met last spring and now can't be found in a box score, however.

"Decision-making," Anderson said. "As opposed to hanging onto the ball so much, he's sharing the basketball."

Horton said his improved decision-making skills are due in part to Anderson's fast-paced approach.

"It's instinctive," Horton said. "It's more on the run and fast-paced. (Anderson) does a good job of letting us make decisions and let us think for ourselves."

Anderson also praised Horton's defense.

In an 81-75 victory over Davidson on Nov. 19, Horton guarded freshman guard Stephen Curry, who entered the game averaging more than 20 points.

Curry did score 16, but shot less than 40 percent and committed 10 turnovers.

Anderson said Horton has been a big reason for the team's early success.

"He's playing to win," Anderson said. "He's feeling good about himself and he's having fun.

"I think more than anything else he's having fun."

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