One game without Laurence Bowers showed how much he means to this current iteration of the basketball Tigers.

Last year, Missouri missed Bowers, without a doubt. He sat out the entire season after he tore ligaments in his left knew before the season. His size and production were obvious detractions from the season, as Missouri went to a four-guard lineup.

But that season, Missouri could get away without his leadership on the court. Mainly, that's because Marcus Denmon and Kim English, along with Ricardo Ratliffe, all filled that role as experienced seniors. But this season, Bowers is Missouri's unquestioned leader. He's not the get-in-your-face, get-off-your-ass type of leader.

Instead, Bowers adds a calming presence to Missouri's lineup. He adds 16 points, seven rebounds and a whole lot more because of that mentality.

Missouri lost by 15 points against Ole Miss. It was out-rebounded by two. Bowers may have single-handedly reversed those stat deficiencies. What was most clear, however, is how much the players on the court missed a calming influence.

That's evident because of the runs Missouri surrendered. 14-4 Ole Miss in the first nine minutes. 5-0 Ole Miss to start the second half, pushing the lead to ten. 10-0 Ole Miss in a span of two minutes after the Tigers cut the lead to eight with around 15 minutes left in regulation.

Missouri would get no closer.

In an away game against a better-than-expected team, Bowers' absence was most obvious in the runs. It's during those spurts where an experienced player helps calm his teammates and slow the bleeding. It's during those spurts where an experienced player reminds his teammates to breathe.

It's during those spurts where Laurence Bowers excels.

Phil Pressey is a leader on this team, without a doubt. But his sometimes-reckless style can have an effect on his teammates when they look to him for guidance during those runs. The result was a sloppy, turnover-filled game in which Missouri rushed shots, didn't hit the boards and let Ole Miss players run free for clean looks.

The best combination of leadership for Missouri is a healthy Bowers and a steady Pressey. Bowers provides the calm, Pressey summons the storms. They offset each other. With a team of transfers seeing their first season together, those two are the glue that holds this group together.

Bowers' absence helped the Tigers fall apart.

Now, with one home game against Georgia separating the Tigers from their second SEC road game, Frank Haith needs to figure out the team's buttons without Bowers.

He also needs to hope Bowers is healthy come Saturday in Gainesville.

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