More than a few eyebrows were raised when Missouri barely squeaked past South Carolina last Tuesday. In addition to eyebrows, that performance also raised plenty of concerns about the Tigers ability to maintain their place among the nation’s best teams. Especially without senior leader Laurence Bowers.
Bowers missed another game on Saturday, but it didn’t matter as a very motivated Tigers team took the court ready to steamroll their opponent. For the Vanderbilt Commodores, they just happened to have the misfortune of trying to stand against that steamroller.
After eight minutes, Missouri held a slim 13-11 lead but then kicked things into gear and played their most prolific 12 minutes of basketball in a long while. The Tigers closed out the half on a 36-9 run and cruised to an 81-59 victory.
Jabari Brown led all scorers with 21 and did so in efficient fashion as he hit on 8-12 attempts and made four of his eight from beyond the arc. As efficient as Brown was yesterday, he was outdone by Alex Oriakhi who turned in an 18 point, 12 rebound double-double while missing just two of his nine attemps from the floor. Keion Bell returned from injury to contribute an even dozen and three steals. Phil Pressey matched Bell with 12 points, added six assists and, perhaps more importantly, only turned the ball over twice. Nine points and seven rebounds were also added to the Tigers ledger thanks to the efforts of Earnest Ross who came off the bench to play 32 minutes. As a team they shot 54.9% from the floor and were 11-21 from three. They outrebounded Vandy by a healthy 39-17 margin.
Junior forward Rod Odom tied his season high with 17 points but little else stood out for the Commodores. Sophomore guard Kendren Johnson was the only other player to crack double digits with 11 points. Vanderbilt shot at a reasonable 44.4% clip on the day but were just 8-24 on their three point attempts and a woeful 3-10 from the free throw line. No one on the team had more than four rebounds or three assists in the game.
Vanderbilt (8-10, 2-4) has now played against four of the top six teams in the SEC and they’ve lost all four. In their road games against Arkansas and Missouri they’ve allowed 137 points while scoring just 92. The Commodores will be on the road again on Tuesday, but it will be against a team more on their level when they tangle with the Tennessee Volunteers (10-8, 2-4).
Missouri’s (15-4, 4-2) next game will take place on Wednesday against conference cellar dweller LSU (10-7, 1-5). While Louisiana State is last in the standings, their RPI (149/347) is ahead of South Carolina (199), Auburn (226), Mississippi State (223). As Texas A&M found out when they visited Baton Rouge and lost 58-54 a few days ago, anything can happen in road games but Mizzou should have little trouble as they are a different class of team with or without Bowers.