Missouri Returns To Winning Home Ways

On Saturday, the #21/20 Missouri Tigers (17-6, 7-4) defeated the RV/#23 Ole Miss Rebels (18-5, 7-3) by the final score of 98-79.

On Saturday, the #21/20 Missouri Tigers (17-6, 7-4) defeated the RV/#23 Ole Miss Rebels (18-5, 7-3) by the final score of 98-79.

Mizzou senior Alex Oriakhi had a monster game, including a career-high 22 points and 18 rebounds. Missouri senior Keion Bell played even better as he held the SEC’s leading scorer, 6’2” 175-pound junior guard Marshall Henderson, to 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field, while scoring 21 points of his own.

Missouri junior point guard Phil Pressey scored 22 points, and added 4 assists against just 1 turnover. Pressey moved ahead of former Missouri great Anthony Peeler into first place on the school’s career list for assists.

Missouri had five players score in double figures, as sophomore Jabari Brown scored 14 points, and junior reserve Earnest Ross added 10 points. But the story of this game was the Missouri defense, led by Bell, Oriakhi, and senior Laurence Bowers, who with an strong assist from junior reserve Tony Criswell, held Mississippi's 6’7” 240-pound senior forward Murphy Holloway to just 7 points and 1 rebound.

“I thought our toughness in the paint was the key to the game,” said Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith, following his team’s blowout win. “It was a physical game. I applaud our guys for how they handled themselves.”

Missouri was 12-for-23 from 3-PT range, held a 50-32 rebound advantage, and came up with 10 steals. The Tigers held a 20-6 advantage in points off turnovers, and outscored Ole Miss 42-30 in the paint, and 26-11 on put-backs.

After Keion Bell fouled Henderson on a 3-PT attempt on the game’s first possession, Missouri dug in and played pretty good defense to begin the game. And, the Tigers got things going on the offensive end. Bell hit a pair of triples from the corner, and Phil Pressey set his feet, and hit a 3-PT shot from the wing. Oriakhi got fouled on the inside, and Missouri led 16-9, with 13:23 remaining in the first half.

Pressey hit another three, and Laurence Bowers got a blocked shot on one end, then got fouled on the other end on a cut to the basket. The Tigers had extended their lead to 23-10, with 10:50 remaining in the first half.

Earnest Ross and Tony Criswell were both in the game for the Tigers, and Pressey was on the bench. The Missouri defense was very solid during this stretch, and on most possessions, the Tigers were holding Ole Miss to a single contested shot. Jabari Brown hit a pair of threes sandwiched around a pair of FTs, and Missouri’s lead had been extended to 38-18, with 6:49 left in the first half

Mississippi Head Coach Andy Kennedy took his second time out of the half after a turnover which Pressey and the Tigers had converted into a fast break. Bell rebounded Pressey’s missed layup, and put it back in. Missouri led 42-20, with 4:29 remaining in the half.

For Mississippi, 6’3” 184-pound sophomore guard Jarvis Summers hit a mid-range jumper over Pressey, and on Missouri’s next possession, Pressey forced a bad shot along the baseline that turned into a transition three for Henderson. Ole Miss had cut the Missouri lead to 42-25, with 3:36 left in the half.

Pressey had gone to the bench, and Missouri immediately went on a run. The Missouri defense was very solid! On the other end, Bell drove into the paint and scored in front of the basket. Brown hit a three, then Bell stripped an Ole Miss player near the top of the key and finished on the other end with a two-handed dunk to put the Tigers ahead 50-29, with 1:13 remaining in the half.

But, Ole Miss came back with a 5-0 run of their own, including a deep three from Henderson to finish the half, and the Rebels had cut Missouri’s lead to 50-36 heading into the locker room.

In the first half, Missouri was 8-15 from behind the arc, and the Tigers had out-rebounded the Rebels by a 24-15 first-half margin, and had outscored Ole Miss 12-2 off of turnovers.

At the half, Henderson was leading Ole Miss with 11 first-half points, but he was just 2-9 from the field. Brown and Bell each had 12 points in the first half for Missouri, and Pressey had 11 first-half points, but he had taken 13 shots from the field.

In the first half, Bowers had done a real good job on Holloway, who had gone to the locker room with just 2 points and 1 rebound.

Ole Miss came out to start the second half with more intensity, and the Rebels were really getting after it. The game had become more physical, and Ole Miss was rebounding better, and they won more of the 50-50 balls. The Rebels cut the Missouri lead to 61-44, with 15:06 remaining in the game.

Bowers was on the bench, and Hollway drove left and got to the FT line. Ole Miss was playing a zone defense, and Henderson stepped in front of a pass from Earnest Ross. Pressey stepped back behind a screen from Bowers and hit a deep three. Missouri led 71-53, with 11:34 remaining.

The game had become extremely physical, and Ole Miss had the better of it on a few possessions. But Missouri answered, and stretched their lead back out to 76-56, with 8:54 remaining.

The game continued to be extremely physical, and a little more than a minute later, Oriakhi and Mississippi’s 6’9” 235-pound senior forward Reginald Buckner fell to the floor following a rebound. Others players became involved. Holloway pushed Bowers in the back and Buckner hit Bowers in the face. The game was delayed as the officials sorted it out. Missouri led 80-58, with 7:31 remaining.

Bowers and Oriakhi were each assessed fouls, and Buckner was ejected from the game and left the arena as boos cascaded down from the stands.

When play resumed, the officials were quick with their whistles. Neither team played with much defensive intensity for the rest of the game. Ole Miss scored easily at times, and Missouri milked the clock as Ole Miss sat back in a two-three zone defense. But, the Tigers continued to attack the basket and the glass, and Missouri held a 91-71 lead, with 3:05 remaining.

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