SEC ROAD WIN!
If it feels like it’s been forever since there has been one of those, that’s because it has. March of last season was the last time this team had won on the road in conference play until tonight.
It wasn’t pretty, yes, but as Cuonzo Martin will say every chance he gets, winning on the road in the SEC is hard. Yes, even against a Vanderbilt squad that is not 1-14 in league play.
Missouri certainly makes your knuckles go a bit white when they’re trying to hold a lead, but the Tigers are getting the job done in recent late game situations with the game on the line. In the last six games Missouri has had a chance to win with under two minutes left, it has won five of them.
In its 61-52 win over the ‘Dores Wednesday night in Nashville, Missouri, despite making a couple careless turnovers in the final minutes, sunk the free throws it had to make. Vanderbilt, just 16-29 from the line all night did not. It ended up being the difference in the game.
Now how about Reed Nikko? He did not miss a shot all night, going 5-5 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line. The senior from Maple Grove, Minnesota has truly been marvelous during conference play, playing the best basketball of his career.
Wednesday night might have been a new personal best, with 14 points, five rebounds and the best plus/minus on the team. Jeremiah Tilmon returned for Missouri, but was only on the court for nine minutes. Nikko was the go-to man inside, and when the ball found his hands, he consistently delivered.
Xavier Pinson was once again fantastic for the Tigers, leading the scoring with 17 points on a 6-12 shooting performance from the field. Pinson scored seven consecutive points for Missouri early in the second half, turning a 30-29 deficit into a 36-32 lead. That run was the catalyst for Missouri to slowly begin pulling away from Vanderbilt.
With the win, Missouri’s fourth in its last six games, the team is back to .500 on the season at 14-14 (6-9). Vanderbilt falls to 9-19 (1-14). Amazingly, the Commodores have won just one SEC game in the past two seasons.
Jerry Stackhouse has a tough task at hand in rebuilding the program, but he does have himself a gem in Scotty Pippen, Jr. The freshman scored 19 points, keeping his team in the game, even as Missouri began to pull away in the second half.
Next up is a Saturday afternoon home matchup against Mississippi State. The way Missouri has been playing, that game looks winnable, especially with the home crowd favoring the Tigers.
After starting 0-3 in conference play, the Bulldogs have won nine of 12 in the SEC to keep themselves in contention for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. One of those wins was a 72-45 drubbing of Missouri in January in Starkville, easily the worst showing of the season for the Tigers.
The chance at revenge and conference win number seven comes at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Mizzou Arena.