It was all knotted up at half when Missouri and Ole Miss returned to the floor for the second half of their first round matchup in the SEC tournament, but once the second half started, it was all Missouri as they cruised to a 72-60 victory over the Rebels.
The Tigers opened second period on a 11-0 run to put themselves up double digits early in the half, and they never relented. At one point, the Missouri lead stretched out to as much as 15, and the score never got closer than 9.
What was the reason behind the sudden surge from the Tigers? According to Kobe Brown, it was a sense of urgency amongst him and his teammates.
“We have been in those situations where we have let game slide away from us so we just emphasized that we didn’t want to go home,” Brown said. “It’s win or go home. There’s no more next game so we had to make everything count.”
Brown was the dominant force in the second half, scoring 12 of his 17 points and finishing a couple tough and-ones that got the Tigers going during their early run to open the half. Javon Pickett, Boogie Coleman, Amari Davis, and Trevon Brazile all finished with 9 points, with Brazile adding 8 rebounds and 3 monster blocks.
Ronnie DeGray was another major contributor finishing with 14 points, all of which he scored in the first half. He was the main reason the Tigers were able to hang around until their second half run.
“It just felt like the rim was the ocean, everything was going in,” DeGray said after the game. “Shoutout to the other guys for finding me.”
As a team, the Tigers shot 54% from the field compared to just 41% for Ole Miss, and there was a clear intent on the Tigers’ part to attack the rim.
“That was one of our biggest emphasis, to get the ball in paint, but also get out in transition,” Cuonzo Martin said. “Forty points [in the paint] against a team like that that plays a physical brand is impressive.”
Tomorrow, the Tigers will have a rematch from a couple of weeks ago with LSU. They’ll be looking for some revenge over former Missouri, and current LSU, guard Xavier Pinson.
When asked if he thinks his team is ready to play a back-to-back, Cuonzo Martin said, “Oh the guys will love it. That means we aren’t practicing.”