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Missouri’s shooting slump ends in road win over Ole Miss

The Tigers shot 16-for-30 from behind the arc and led for over 36 minutes in a dominant performance.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri’s hot shooting guided them to an 89-77 win at The Pavilion in Oxford, allowing Dennis Gates to pick up his first SEC road win of his career.

D’Moi Hodge, Isiaih Mosley and Kobe Brown combined for 62 points, with each one of them appearing to regain their offensive swagger in this game.

Overall, the shooting struggles officially ended in this game. The Tigers shot 53.3% from behind the arc, with the team assisting on 21-of-31 made baskets.

The opening minutes set the tone for the rest of the game. Brown and Hodge started 6-for-7 from behind the arc, with Hodge appearing to find his touch after shooting at a 20% or below clip in the previous four games.

The Tigers led 22-13 at the 13:32 mark of the first half, and after Ole Miss went on a quick 5-0 burst, Missouri responded quickly.

They manufactured a 10-0 run of their own behind the crafty play of Sean East II (seven points in the game) and Mosley’s first 3-pointer of the season. Mosley also started in this game, his first of the season.

That only began his hot shooting. Mosley hit two threes in a row to stop a 2:19 scoring drought for both teams, and it was at this point that he appeared to truly regain his offensive rhythm.

Missouri led 44-28 at the 3:09 mark, but the Rebels closed the half on a 13-3 run to cut the lead to six at halftime. Eight points from Daeshun Ruffin powered the offensive burst, but a floater at the buzzer from Amaree Abram seemed to truly steal momentum from the Tigers.

To only lead 47-41 after shooting 63% from the floor and 60% from behind the arc seemed hard to believe. The Mizzou defense seemed checked out in the closing minutes of the half, and allowing Ole Miss to score 11 second-chance points did not help the Tigers’ cause either.

Aside from the hot shooters, Mohamed Diarra also had a major impact in the first half. He finished the game with a career-high 11 points and six rebounds, and the hustle plays he made proved to be key to Missouri’s first half success.

The Rebels suffered through a 2:19 scoring drought in the beginning of the second half, and Mizzou capitalized by pushing the ball in transition. Hodge assisted Mosley on two fast-break layups, extending the Tiger lead to 54-43.

Diarra scored five straight points to keep Ole Miss at bay, and Hodge hit another three at the 9:24 mark to extend the Tiger lead to 70-58.

The hot 3-point shooting continued over the ensuing minutes, as Brown hit two in a row, followed by another step-back from Mosley. Despite Brown returning off injury and Mosley playing in his third game since a month-long absence, neither player looked uncomfortable.

The Rebels yet again mounted a late-half rally, going on a 12-5 run to cut the lead to 79-71 with 3:43 remaining. However, the Tigers salted the game away with some quality looks in the paint.

The shooting improvement should be the highlight of the game, but the continued development of Mosley and Diarra on this team also made a major difference. Mosley found his shot while also being able to consistently make plays for the offense, while Diarra’s activity down low continued to fill a void on this team.

Missouri also scored 20 points off of 16 Ole Miss turnovers, playing within their style of being aggressive on defense and pushing the pace off turnovers.

The Tigers will return home for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this Saturday. Mizzou will host No. 12 Iowa State (14-4, 5-2), looking to avenge last season’s 67-50 loss in Ames. The game is at 1 p.m. CST and can be seen on ESPN2.