Feb. 15, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Behind a balanced attack, the Missouri men's basketball team edged Tennessee, 75-70, Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers got scoring contributions from eight different players in shooting 56.5 percent from the field. Junior guard Jabari Brown notched a team-high 24 points and Missouri tossed in 40 points in the paint to earn the victory. The Tigers improve to 18-7 overall and 6-6 in the SEC.
While the Tigers still relied on the three-headed monster of Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross, Mizzou got great performances out of its frontcourt freshmen. Johnathan Williams III (10 points, five rebounds), Torren Jones (career-high eight points, five rebounds, one block) and Keanau Post (four points, three rebounds) collectively had their best game of the season.
Trailing 5-4 less than three minutes in the game, Missouri ripped off a 10-0 run to establish an early lead. After Brown sunk one of his two three-pointers, senior forward Tony Criswell knocked down a trey of his own to give the Tigers a 22-11 lead.
Starting center Ryan Rosburg dealt with foul trouble throughout the game. The 6-foot-10 sophomore picked up his second foul at the 12:34 mark, forcing head coach Frank Haith to depend on his reserves in the frontcourt for crucial minutes. The big men off the bench rose to the occasion.
Tennessee slowly got back in the game behind hot shooting from senior Jordan McRae, who posted a game-high 31 points. His jumper with 6:11 remaining in the first half clipped the deficit to 30-26. The Tigers answered with clutch plays from Jones and Post. After an offensive rebound and put back from Jones, Post threw down an emphatic dunk on the ensuing possession. Missouri owned a slim 41-37 lead at halftime.
McRae continued to have the hot hand in the second half for the Volunteers, hitting a three-pointer on the first possession to slice Mizzou's lead to one. Tennessee grabbed a 46-45 lead at the 15:07 mark, but again Jones stepped up, reeling off four straight points. The Tigers' bench outscored the Volunteers' 17-3, their best performance in SEC play.
The second half was a back-and-forth contest, featuring eight lead changes. Missouri finally edged in front for good with four minutes to play. Brown knifed through the lane and flipped in a reverse layup and Jordan Clarkson followed with a jumper two possessions later to give the Tigers a 70-65 advantage with 2:12 remaining on the clock.
Tennessee battled back to close the gap to 71-70, but Brown hit two free throws with 15 seconds left and forced a Volunteer turnover on their final possession to seal the deal.
On the heels of their second consecutive victory, the Tigers will complete their three-game home stand against Vanderbilt on Wednesday. The game tips off at 7 p.m.
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