Tigers serve up a measure of revenge

Missouri routs Ole Miss on Saturday

Reginald Buckner of Mississippi throws a punch at Missouri’s Laurence Bowers as referees attempt to separate the players during the second half of Saturday afternoon’s game at Mizzou Arena. Buckner was ejected after the fracas.

Reginald Buckner of Mississippi throws a punch at Missouri’s Laurence Bowers as referees attempt to separate the players during the second half of Saturday afternoon’s game at Mizzou Arena. Buckner was ejected after the fracas. Photo by The Associated Press.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – When Missouri faced Mississippi on Jan. 12, the Tigers scored just 49 points in 40 minutes, its lowest output since a loss to Iowa State in 2005.

They needed just 20 minutes Saturday to top that, putting together one of its most complete efforts of the season in the process.

Missouri raced out to a 22-point first-half lead and routed Mississippi 98-79 at Mizzou Arena in a game that turned chippy, and nearly ugly, late in the second half.

“Up there, they really took it to us,” Haith said about the previous game against Mississippi.

This time around, it was Missouri that stuck it to Mississippi, scoring a season-high 98 points in a game it controlled from the onset.

Missouri, which is now 14-0 at home, showed no signs of a hangover from its tough loss at Texas A&M less than 48 hours earlier.

“I’m thrilled,” Haith said. “You look at the quick turnaround. ... I was so proud of how we handled ourselves.”

Alex Oriakhi and Phil Pressey led five Tigers in double figures with 22 points each. Oriakhi also grabbed 18 rebounds as Missouri outrebounded Mississippi 50-32.

Saturday’s game was never really in doubt for Missouri. A quick 10-2 run, capped by a Pressey 3-pointer put Missouri ahead 16-7 with 13:59 left in the first half. The shots kept falling for Missouri as the Tigers led by as many as 23 in the first half and settled for a 50-34 halftime lead.

It was much different than the first meeting.

In Missouri’s previous game against Mississippi, Missouri couldn’t score and had trouble stopping Murphy Holloway. On Saturday, the Tigers connected on 12 3-pointers and held Holloway to just seven points in 30 minutes. He scored 22 in the previous meeting.

“He’s a great scorer, and I thought we did a great job taking away his left hand, which is important to him as he scores,” Haith said. “That’s an easy statement, but I think everybody in the league knows he goes left and he still goes left. Our guys did a great job of sitting on it and then making it tough on him. We also did a great job keeping him off the boards and that was important.”

With Missouri (17-6, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) well in control in the second half, the game took a bad turn with 7:31 left when Oriakhi appeared to trip Reginald Buckner as he came down the court after a Mississippi missed shot. Buckner took exception and came after Oriakhi. Laurence Bowers intervened and in the ensuing scrum, Buckner connected on a punch to Bowers and both teams had to be separated.

The game was delayed for several minutes while the referees discussed the situation. Buckner was eventually ejected and technical fouls were assessed to Oriakhi, Jabari Brown and Holloway.

Players and coaches brushed the situation aside after the game, saying it was more just a part of physical play than anything else.

Oriakhi, who came out of the game immediately after the incident, returned just more than a minute later, and quickly scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in a four-minute stretch.

Oriakhi’s emotions have become an issue of late in games. He was assessed a technical foul against Texas A&M and he has had a season-long problem of worrying about the officials.

“I’m not concerned about it,” Haith said. “I think it’s something Alex understands he’s got to get better with. As long as he channels it like tonight and gets 18 boards and 22 points, I’m happy with that. I just don’t want him doing anything crazy to hurt our team. I think that’s what he’s got to understand. You don’t want to hurt your team.”

Added Bowers: “All I was doing was protecting my teammate. I felt like the guy was about to storm Alex so I just intervened.”

The fracas was the only dark spot for the Tigers. They hit 12-of-23 3-pointers and shot 47 percent from the floor in arguably their most complete game of the season.

While Missouri could do little wrong, Mississippi could do little right. The Rebels shot 42 percent for the game and got no closer than 14 in the second half.

Marshall Henderson, who came in averaging 20 points per game, scored 16 to lead the Rebels (18-5, 7-3 SEC), but he hit just 4-of-15 shots.

It was a much needed victory for the Tigers as they embark on a two-game road trip beginning Wednesday against Mississippi State.

Asked if it was Missouri’s best effort, Bowers responded with an emphatic “absolutely.”

Notes: Late in the second half, Pressey broke Anthony Peeler’s record for career assists. Pressey now has 499, surpassing Peeler’s 497.... It was the first time Missouri has had three 20-point scorers in league play since March 3, 2002, against Kansas. ... After playing Mississippi State, Missouri heads to Arkansas on Saturday to take on the Razorbacks and former head coach Mike Anderson.

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