The Missouri Tigers‘ roller coaster initial season in the Southeastern Conference continues. The 21st-ranked Tigers, 6-4 in conference and 17-6 overall, remain perfect at home with a revenge victory over the Mississippi Rebels, 98-79 on Saturday. Missouri continues their pattern of winning everything at home but playing poorly on the road in conference.
The 23rd-ranked Rebels, 7-3 in SEC play and 18-5 overall, seemed over matched from opening tip to the final buzzer. The Tigers lead by as many as 23 and never let their lead drop below 14 points in the second half. Ole Miss couldn’t keep the Tigers off the boards at any point in the game, losing the rebound battle 32-50. The Tigers were paced by three players topping the 20-point plateau. Alex Oriakhi turned in a career day, scoring 22 points and pulling in 18 caroms. Phil Pressey added 22 points and Keion Bell contributed 21 for the Tigers.
The high intensity and physicality of the game led to some unseemly moments. With about seven and a half minutes to go in the game, Oriakhi, who had fallen to the floor, grabbed the foot of Reginald Buckner, tripping him up. Buckner reacted in anger, taking a couple steps toward Oriakhi. A referee and Laurence Bowers stepped in to keep the peace. The Rebels’ Murphy Holloway pushed Bowers in the back. The thrust of the pushed forced Bowers into Buckner and Buckner reacted by flailing his arms forward, striking Bowers in the face. Buckner was ejected for throwing a punch and issued a technical foul. Oriahki was assessed a flagrant foul for the initial tripping and a technical. Bowers, Holloway, and Jabari Brown also earned technical fouls in the brief skirmish.
If the Tigers could figure out how to perform with the same intensity and skill on the road as they do at home, maybe they could gain some ground in the SEC standings. As of now, they stand tied for 5th place with Georgia. Missouri has to fix this problem sooner rather than later because four of their next five games are on the road, starting Wednesday night at Mississippi State.