Mississippi’s 6’7” 240-pound senior forward Murphy Holloway led the way for the Rebels with 22 points and 8 rebounds, and Missouri committed 19 turnovers, and shot just 2 of 18 from 3-PT range. Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith questioned his team’s toughness.
“We played with no toughness,” explained Coach Haith. “To win on the road, you’ve got to have some toughness. They out-toughed us. They drove the ball harder than us. We missed way too many layups, way too may chippies……………………………. …… Their big guys just shoved us around in the paint………………………………….. We didn’t attack like we should. I mean, we were 2 for 18. We settled for a lot of contested threes.”
To begin the game, Bell drew the defensive assignment of guarding the SEC’s leading scorer, in 6’2” 175-pound junior guard Marshall Henderson. As would be expected, the starting combo of Bell and Ross proved to be ineffective, as Mississippi jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 15:46 remaining in the first half.
Coach Haith quickly inserted Tony Criswell, who had been out since the Illinois game, and who scored Missouri’s first bucket of this game. Ryan Rosburg and Negus Webster-Chan both saw early action for the Tigers. Missouri cut the Ole Miss lead to 16-21, with 4:22 remaining in the first half, but the Tigers never got any closer than that.
Mississippi Head Coach Andy Kennedy went with Holloway, Henderson, 6’6” 210-pound sophomore guard Ladarius White, 6’3” 184-pound sophomore guard Jarvis Summers, and 6’9” 235-pound senior forward Reginald Buckner. Early in the game, the Rebels did a good job of getting back in transition defense, and Missouri committed 6 turnovers in the first 7 minutes.
Coach Haith rotated Bell and Ross back into the game together, and this time, the results were more amenable to Missouri’s cause. For much of the first half, the Tigers could not buy a basket, but their defense kept them in the game. Henderson picked up an early second foul and went to the bench, but his replacement, 5’10” 170-pound freshman point guard Derrick Millinghaus, hit a pair of three-pointers late in the first half to extend the Ole Miss lead to 31-22 at the half.
Mizzou had committed 10 first-half turnovers, and the Tigers had shot just 33% from the field, and were 1 for 8 from beyond the arc, in the first half. It had been a very physical first half, and the pace had been kind of herky-jerky, which was more to the Rebels liking. The combination of the very physical play and the interrupted, occasionally frenetic, pace had the Tigers struggling to find their rhythm and to get a handle on the basketball. Still, as Missouri went to the halftime locker room, it appeared that the Tigers had started to figure it out, if they could just get a handle on the basketball.
Coach Haith opened the second half with the same line-up as he started the game, but Ross allowed Holloway to drive left again, then forced up an early bad three, and quickly found a seat on the bench. Oriakhi was sitting, as well. The physical play had taken the big man out of his game.
By the time Phil Pressey dribbled the length of the court to break the press and hit a layup, Missouri trailed 35-51 with 13:09 remaining.
A few minutes later, Missouri was stuck on 41 points for four-and-a-half minutes, as the Rebels pushed their lead out to twenty, 61-41 with 5:22 remaining in the game.
Perhaps the most encouraging development on the night for Missouri was the appearance of Criswell, who score 6 points and pulled down 2 rebounds, before fouling out after 16 minutes played. He wore a padded cast on his left hand, but managed to make 3 of 4 shots, and had an assist without turning the ball over. He also did a decent job of defending Holloway, which no one else was able to do.
For the game, Missouri shot just 37% from the field, largely the result of the 2 of 18 from behind the arc, and of a number of missed layups. The poor shooting, coupled with the 19 turnovers, and repeated defensive breakdowns, all added up to an ugly road loss for the Tigers.
The second half wasn't that much different than the first. Missouri didn't adapt well enough to the physical play. They didn't take care of the basketball. They didn't hit shots, even from point blank range. And, the Tigers had too many mental lapses on the defensive end, and gave Mississippi too many easy buckets.