Big Steve Moore lay stretched on the practice floor inside Mizzou Arena, breathing heavily. The University of Missouri post man and Truman graduate had just completed the last of the Tigers’ version of the George Mikan “big man” drills administered by Tiger assistant coach Matt Zimmerman on Friday.

Big Steve Moore lay stretched on the practice floor inside Mizzou Arena, breathing heavily.

The University of Missouri post man and Truman graduate had just completed the last of the Tigers’ version of the George Mikan “big man” drills administered by Tiger assistant coach Matt Zimmerman on Friday. The Mikan drills are designed to develop rhythm, timing for rebounding and scoring in the paint for post players and are also used to increase stamina.

“It’s called a hundred hits,” Moore said as he rose to catch his breath. “You do 30 layups with the swing leg, 30 opposite feet, then you do 20 block to block, then you do 20 with your back to the block. It’s supposed to help you finish your layups and help you with your conditioning. You try to do them as quick as you can.”

The drills followed a light practice before the Tigers left for a road game Saturday at Nebraska, which Missouri won 74-59. Moore only played eight minutes against the Cornhuskers, but with post-practice workouts like the one Friday, the 6-foot-9 sophomore figures to be a key cog in the Tigers’ machine in the next two years.

“Steve is a young man who has a lot of ‘want to,’ ” said Tigers associate head coach Melvin Watkins, who has worked extensively with Moore on improving his game. “He wants to get better each and every day and people can see that by the way he’s changed his body, lost some weight and improved his play.”

Moore’s improvement since he arrived in Columbia has been steady. Rarely used as a freshman, playing in only 18 games for a team the reached the Elite Eight, Moore has played in all 27 games this season for the 20-7 Tigers. He credits extra work in the gym and the weight room as the reason for increased playing time.

“For one, I lost weight,” said the 240-pound Moore, who has lost 30 pounds since he first stepped on campus. “I leaned up, so I’m a lot quicker and a lot faster. I got a lot more stamina and endurance than I had last year to go and compete and run they way (head) Coach (Mike Anderson) wants to play.”

Moore averages nine minutes a game for a team that has nine players averaging double digits in minutes. Entering tonight’s home game against Colorado (6:30 p.m., Metro Sports, Comcast Cable channel 44), he has 15 blocks on the season, good for fourth on the team behind sophomore Laurence Bowers, senior Keith Ramsey and junior Justin Safford.

“I mean, they’re tough,” Moore said of competing for playing time in the Tigers’ front-court rotation. “Keith is a senior, he knows the game. He knows what he’s doing. Justin – he’s strong, athletic – he’s a big man guard. He can put it on the floor, he can shoot, he can post up, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s quick.

“I just try to go out there and compete and make them better and make myself better as well.”

Watkins said the improvement in Moore’s play is evident.

“Steve still has some progress he wants to make, but he’s really helped our team defensively,” Watkins said. “He’s big, strong and understands the game. He really wants to get better and everyone around him can see the improvement.”