Feb. 9, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. – A strong first half of play propelled the 21st-ranked Missouri Tigers to a 98-79 win over the #23 Ole Miss Rebels Saturday afternoon in an emotionally-charged Mizzou Arena. Senior center Alex Oriakhi scored a career-high 22 points and added 18 rebounds, while junior guard Phil Pressey added 22 points and four assists, and senior guard Keion Bell added 21 points and three assists to the winning cause.
The Tigers (17-6 overall, 6-4 in Southeastern Conference play) avenged a 64-49 loss earlier in the year at Ole Miss (18-5, 7-3), and did so in convincing fashion, taking control from the early going. Bell and Pressey each hit a three-pointer in the opening minutes, staking Mizzou to an initial 6-5 lead. Over the next 8:41 of play, Mizzou would outscore Ole Miss by a 27-8 margin, including eight points by Pressey, and the lead stretched to 33-13 with 9:04 left in the half, capped by a Laurence Bowers dunk.
Mizzou would stretch the lead to as many as 23 points before halftime, before the visiting Rebels would close to 50-34 at half, thanks to a late three-pointer from guard Marshall Henderson. Henderson, the SEC's top scorer, at 20.0 points per game coming in, ended with 16 points, but was held to just 4-of-15 shooting by the active Mizzou defensive effort Saturday. Ole Miss shot just 42.0% overall, including just 6-of-18 from three-point range (33.3%), while Mizzou connected at a 47.3% rate from the floor, including a season-high tying 12-of-23 from long distance (52.2%).
Ole Miss would score the first basket of the second half to close to within 14, at 50-36, but Mizzou answered with a layin by Oriakhi, a Bell three-pointer and a jumper by guard Jabari Brown sandwiched around an Ole Miss bucket. The flurry pushed the Tiger advantage back to 19, at 57-38, with 17:33 left to play.
That Brown jumper became part of history, as Pressey was credited with an assist on the play. That gave Pressey his 498th career assist as a Tiger, and that broke the long-standing record of 497 by former Tiger great Anthony Peeler (from 1988-92).
The outcome was never in doubt the rest of the way, as the closest the Rebels would get outside of garbage time was at 15 points with 10 minutes left, but a quick 7-0 run by Mizzou squashed that charge and propelled the Tigers to the win before 14,013 boisterous fans.
Mizzou enjoyed a huge day on the glass, as the Tigers outrebounded the Rebs by a whopping 50-32 margin. The Tigers cleaned up on the offensive boards, with 22 offensive rebounds (including 10 by Oriakhi alone), leading to 26 second-chance points (Ole Miss had 11 second-chance points).
There were six technical fouls handed out on the day in what was a very physical game by both teams. Five of them came in a sequence with 7:31 left in the game, when Oriakhi was called for a flagrant foul, and that touched off a brief scrum that had to be broken up by officials. When the dust settled, Ole Miss' Reginald Buckner was ejected from the game, while Murphy Holloway was assessed a technical. Oriakhi, Bowers and Brown were also doled out technicals during the sequence.
When play resumed, there were no issues the rest of the way, as Mizzou would stretch its lead to as many as 22 points before Head Coach Frank Haith cleared the bench.
Guard Earnest Ross added 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench for Mizzou, while Brown had 14 points, three assists and three rebounds.
Up next for Mizzou is a stretch that will see the Tigers play four of their next five games on the road. The action begins Wednesday night at Mississippi State (Feb. 13th), with a 7 p.m. game from Starkville, Miss. The Tigers then head to Arkansas for a Feb. 16th game against former coach Mike Anderson, followed by a Feb. 19th home contest against Florida. The road tests continue on Feb. 23rd at Kentucky and Feb. 28th at South Carolina.
Stay tuned to www.MUTigers.com for continuing coverage of Mizzou Tiger Basketball.