Kobe Brown and D’Moi Hodge combined for 50 points and the Tigers withstood every punch UT threw at them.
Missouri ended a season sweep of Tennessee with a 79-71 win at 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 found clutch plays throughout the game.
The Tigers also managed to hang with the Vols on the glass and beat Tennessee 38-26 in the paint. Mizzou matched the physique of the orange team throughout the match, and it ended in victory.
Missouri took a 67-66 lead with 4:12 left in the game thanks to two free throws from Kobe Brown. The Vols tied the game with a free throw from Jahmai Mashack.
Then Mr. Nick Honor took control to swing the game in Mizzou’s favor. He got past Tyreke Key for a reverse layup to give the Tigers the lead, then he hit a 3-pointer to keep Mizzou in front.
Hodge forced a turnover on the incoming play that followed, and he then nailed a 3-pointer on a screen to freeze the game. Missouri proceeded to close the game from the free throw line.
Sloppy attacking 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 interceptions but unable to deal with the ball at the other end.
A 1-for-8 start from behind the arc for the Tigers put Tennessee into a 16-9 lead at 11:42 of the first half. Emotions were high from the start, with Uros Plavsic mingling with some Missouri players. Plavsic has grown accustomed to being a high-energy player who gets under opponents’ skin, and he set the tone for this game early on.
The Tigers managed to take the lead over the next two minutes. A 7-0 personal run from Hodge tied the game at 25 with 3:39 left in the first half.
A buzzer-beating uprising from Mashack gave Tennessee a 33-30 halftime lead. The miraculous shot seemed fitting for this game, and it capped off a frantic end to the half that saw the two teams trade buckets.
Brown led the way with 12 points and the Tigers forced the Volunteers to 10 turnovers in the first half. Still, Mizzou’s inability to keep UT out of the glass, particularly Olivier Nkamhoua, hurt him throughout the first half.
Tennessee opened up in the second half on a quick 5-0 run, but the Tigers responded with a 3-point trio from Hodge, Honor and then Brown. The opening minutes of the second half were much quicker, favoring Missouri’s high-flying style.
A Noah Carter and one gave Mizzou a 42-41 lead at 16:20, and the game went neck and neck from there.
After falling 53-49 with 11:33 remaining in the game, the Volunteers quickly redeemed themselves thanks to 3 consecutive points from Tyreke Key. The normally prolific shooter found his groove in the second half, scoring 10 points in the period.
Missouri will now face Alabama (27-5, 16-2) in the semifinals. The game will take place at noon central time and can be found on ESPN.