Tested, but never beaten, Mizzou takes down Tennessee in SEC quarterfinals

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri completed a season-sweep of Tennessee with a 79-71 victory in Nashville on Friday, advancing to its first ever SEC Tournament semifinal.

D’Moi Hodge and Kobe Brown combined for 50 points and 13 rebounds, and they each came up with clutch plays down the stretch of the game.

The Tigers also managed to hang with the Vols on the glass and and out-scored Tennessee 38-26 in the paint. Mizzou matched the orange team’s physicality throughout the game, and it resulted in a win.

Missouri claimed a 67-66 lead with 4:12 remaining in the game thanks to two Kobe Brown free throws. The Vols proceeded to tie the game with a free throw from Jahmai Mashack.

Then, Mr. Nick Honor took control to swing the game in Mizzou’s favor. He drove past Tyreke Key for a reverse lay-up to give the Tigers the lead, and he then hit a 3-pointer to keep Mizzou ahead.

Hodge forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play, and he then nailed a 3-pointer off a screen to ice the game. Missouri proceeded to close out the game from the free throw line.

Sloppy offensive play defined the opening minutes of this game. The two teams combined to have 10 turnovers in the first eight minutes, with Mizzou recording plenty of steals but being unable to take care of the ball on the other end.

A 1-for-8 start from behind the arc for the Tigers enabled Tennessee to claim a 16-9 lead at the 11:42 mark of the first half. Emotions ran high early on, with Uros Plavsic getting into it with a couple of Missouri players. Plavsic has made a habit out of being a high-energy player that gets under the skin of opponents, and he set the tone of this game early on.

The Tigers managed to chip into the lead over the course of the next couple of minutes. A personal 7-0 run from Hodge tied the game up at 25 with 3:39 remaining in the first half.

A buzzer-beating heave from Mashack gave Tennessee a 33-30 lead at halftime. The miraculous shot seemed fitting for this game, and it capped off a frantic end to the half that saw both sides trade buckets.

Brown led the way with 12 points, and the Tigers forced the Volunteers into 10 first half turnovers. Still, Mizzou’s inability to keep UT off the glass, specifically Olivier Nkamhoua, hurt it throughout the first half.

Tennessee opened up on the second half on a quick 5-0 run, but the Tigers responded thanks to a trio of 3-pointers from Hodge, Honor and then Brown. The opening minutes of the second half were much more fast-paced, favoring Missouri’s high-flying style.

A Noah Carter and-one gave Mizzou a 42-41 lead at the 16:20 mark, and the game remained neck-and-neck from there on out.

After falling behind 53-49 with 11:33 remaining in the game, the Volunteers quickly made up ground thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Tyreke Key. The normally prolific shooter found his rhythm in the second half, scoring 10 points in the period.

Missouri will now move on to take on No. 1 Alabama (27-5, 16-2) in the semifinals. The game will take place at noon central time and can be found on ESPN.

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