MISSOURI 90, SOUTH CAROLINA 68
By JEFFREY COLLINS
COLUMBIA — Keion Bell scored 24 points and Jabari Brown added 23 to lead Missouri to a 90-68 win over South Carolina on Thursday night.
Missouri shot 69.6 percent (32 of 46) for the game, and plenty of those baskets were easy. The Tigers (20-8, 9-6 Southeastern) had 10 dunks and 46 points in the paint to pick up just their second win on the road this season. Missouri shot just nine 3-pointers, making six of them.
After shooting 67 percent (16 of 24) in the first half, the Tigers (20-8, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) made 12 of their first 13 shots from the field in the second half to go on a 31-13 run that ballooned a seven-point halftime lead into a 76-51 margin.
For most of the game, Missouri flirted with its best shooting night ever, 75.4 percent against Hawaii Loa in December of 1989. But the Tigers missed four of their last six shots to fall off the pace.
Damien Leonard came off the bench to lead South Carolina (13-15, 3-12) with 20 points. The Gamecocks have lost seven of their last eight games.
Missouri remains fifth in the SEC, just a game behind fourth place and a double bye in the conference tournament. With the victory, the Tigers reached 20 wins for the fifth straight year.
Bell missed the first game between the teams in January, where the Tigers shot 20 percent in the first half and had to come back from 13 points down for a 71-65 win. He was the difference in this one, shooting 8-of-12 and even adding four assists.
Alex Oriakhi scored 18 points, making all six of his shots and all six of his free throws. Phil Pressley didn’t attempt a single shot, but had nine assists, two over his SEC-leading average of seven a game.
Williams and Brian Richardson each added 10 points for South Carolina.
Missouri started the game hitting its first six shots and barely cooled off the rest of the half. But South Carolina always had a run to keep it close. The Gamecocks made seven of their 12 3-pointers in the opening half. South Carolina’s reserves scored 28 points, led by Brenton Williams’ 10 points.
Williams’ jumper with 2:35 left in the first half cut Missouri’s lead to 39-36. But the Tigers got dunks on each of their next three possessions and led 45-38 at halftime.