Feb. 19, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Mizzou men's basketball team used a late second-half surge to grind out a 67-64 win over Vanderbilt in a tale of two halves at Mizzou Arena. Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross combined for all of Mizzou's points in a convincing 11-2 run that helped the Tigers pull ahead for good in the final minutes.
Clarkson led all scorers with 21 points behind a perfect 11-for-11 output from the free throw line and senior Earnest Ross hit four 3-pointers en route to 16 points. The win is the third straight victory for Missouri (19-7 overall, 7-6 SEC).
Both teams experienced shooting woes in the first half, combining for only 41 total points. While the Tigers struggled from the field offensively, they made up for it on the defensive end. Missouri held the Commodores (14-11, 6-7) to just 40-percent shooting from the floor, including 31 percent from long range. Vanderbilt clung to a 19-15 lead with 4:50 remaining in the initial frame.
Reserve forward Torren Jones ended a three-minute Tiger scoring drought with a transition layup and Ross banged in a corner three to pull the Tigers ahead by one. For the second straight game, Jones' hustle provided a lift off the bench for head coach Frank Haith. The 6-foot-8 freshman posted four points, four rebounds and three steals in 18 efficient minutes of the bench. A buzzer-beater by the Commodores off a baseline inbounds play gave them a 21-20 lead at the half.
The game stayed close throughout the second half, though both offenses quickly found their shooting touch. Mizzou grabbed momentum when freshman Jonathan Williams III beat the shot clock with his second 3-pointer of the season, but Vanderbilt answered swiftly and clawed back to regain a 46-44 lead at the 9:00 mark.
Mizzou's game-winning run came with just under six minutes left. With the Commodores holding onto a 51-48 lead, Clarkson weaved through the lane and converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to knot things up. On the ensuing Vanderbilt possession, Tiger center Ryan Rosburg drew a charge and Ross followed with a deep 3-pointer to give Mizzou a lead it would never surrender.
After a Commodore dunk, Clarkson slashed to the basket again for an easy layup and Ross tossed in another 3-pointer to extend the Tigers' advantage to 61-53. Missed free throws down the stretch allowed Vanderbilt to climb back in the closing moments of the game, but Missouri held on for its third straight victory by five points or less.
After a spotless home stand, the Tigers will hit the road for back-to-back games, with a trip to Alabama up next on Saturday. The game tips off at 7 p.m. CT.
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