March 15, 2013
|Rebounds (Off.)||31 (14)||46 (11)|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Missouri Tigers used a stifling defensive effort and a forceful double-double from big man Alex Oriakhito easily dispatch of the Texas A&M Aggies in both teams' first-ever Southeastern Conference Tournament game, 62-50 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Mizzou (23-9) came into the game as the second-highest scoring team in the SEC (averaging 76.7 points per game coming into the contest), but it was its defensive effort which keyed the win Thursday evening. Texas A&M (18-15) was held to a paltry 24.1% shooting, making just 14-of-58 shots on the night. The Tigers blocked four A&M shots and held a solid 46-31 rebounding advantage. Oriakhi was a big part on both ends of the floor, as the senior center led Mizzou with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting (including five thunderous dunks) and 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season.
The first of his dunks came less than one minute into the game, on a feed from sophomore guard Jabari Brown, and that gave the Tigers a quick 2-0 lead that Mizzou would never relinquish. Senior forwardLaurence Bowershit a three-pointer to make it 5-0, and after A&M scored four straight, the Tigers began slowly pulling away.
A 10-0 Mizzou scoring run, capped by aTony Criswelltransition bucket, put the Tigers up 26-13 with 5:21 left in the first half. Six straight Aggie points cut the lead to 26-19 but sophomore guardEarnest Ross, making his return to the SEC Tournament after playing as a freshman at Auburn, had a follow putback of his own miss in the paint with 37 seconds left before half, and the score stood at 28-19 in favor of the Tigers.
A&M closed to within 28-21 on a pair of early second-half free throws by Ray Turner, but Mizzou answered with another Oriakhi dunk followed by five straight points from Bowers to give the Tigers some breathing room, at 35-23. Bowers, a Memphis, Tenn. native ended with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists playing in his home state.
Mizzou would allow A&M to get no closer, as an 8-0 run by CoachFrank Haith'stroops later extended the lead to 45-26 with 9:48 to play. The Tigers would make 12-of-14 free throws in the second half to keep the Aggies out of reach, while they sank 15-of-21 fouls shots overall on the night (71.4%).
Junior guardPhil Presseyhad five assists, four rebounds and two points in a solid effort running the show. The Tigers were very good at sharing the ball Thursday night, as they were credited with 15 assists on their 21 baskets versus A&M.
Four Tigers scored in double figures in the win, as Bowers, Brown and Criswell all chipped in with 10 points apiece, while Ross added 10 rebounds and seven points off the bench in support.
The win advances Mizzou to the SEC quarterfinals, where they will take on the 3-seed Ole Miss Rebels at 9 p.m. (central time) Friday. The teams split their two regular-season matchups, with each team winning at home (Mississippi won 64-49 in Oxford on Jan. 12th, while Mizzou returned the favor in Columbia on Feb. 9th with a 98-79 win). Thursday's win marked MU's fourth-straight conference tournament win, following their perfect 3-0 run through the Big 12 post-season tourney in 2012.
Stay tuned to MUTigers.com for continuing coverage of Mizzou's quest for a second-straight conference post-season tournament title!
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