Photos by Matthew Fairburn
Story by the Associated Press
Keion Bell collects a pass in the second half of Saturday’s win over LSU. Bell finished the game with 11 points and six rebounds.
Even with Missouri coach Frank Haith sitting next to him on the podium, Alex Oriakhi could not stifle himself.
The memory fresh from struggles in the first meeting against LSU, the senior forward said the rematch was more than just a game.
“I just wanted revenge,” Oriakhi said after getting 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, helping the Tigers stay unbeaten at home with an 89-76 victory over LSU on Saturday. “I didn’t care how much I scored, I just wanted to win.”
After failing to suppress a laugh, Haith scolded Oriakhi about “Media Training 101″ and did his best to re-direct questioning elsewhere.
“Please. No more. He’s done,” Haith said as Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers guffawed while bolting for the locker room.
Bowers had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Phil Pressey added 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the Tigers (21-8, 10-6 SEC), who rallied from an early 13-point deficit. They’re 16-0 at Mizzou Arena but just 2-7 on the road, including a three-point loss at LSU on Jan 31.
Oriakhi was held to one point, three rebounds with four fouls in the first meeting. Missouri emphasized getting the ball inside in the rematch, totaling 52 points in the lane.
“I think that’s just what we are,” Oriakhi said. “A lot of credit goes to the guards, they’re just spotting us. Phil is just putting us in perfect position where all we’ve got to do is lay the ball in or dunk it.”
Bowers had his highest point total since also scoring 23 against Illinois in December, and earned his second double double in 10 games since returning from a knee injury.
“I just got lost in the game,” Bowers said. “Coach sent me a text this morning that just said, ‘Play free.’ I think that’s what I did and it really helped me.”
Anthony Hickey posted career bests with 22 points and six 3-pointers for LSU (17-10, 8-8), which matched its season best with 12 3-pointers but shot 42 percent overall compared with a season-best 55.6 percent in the first meeting. Charles Carmouche had 21 points, the fourth 20-plus outing in five games for the senior guard who averages 10.1 points.
“I think he’s found his niche and what he’s capable of doing,” coach Johnny Jones said. “He understands that he’s a senior, this is it for him, and he’s playing with a great sense of urgency.”
Missouri escaped an early 25-12 hole by pounding it inside, with seven baskets on dunks, tip-ins or follow shots out of their 18 first-half baskets. The Tigers shot 54.5 percent overall and led 43-39 at the half.
“I think we did a good job coming out, throwing the first punch and kind of letting them know that we were here to win the ballgame,” Carmouche said. “We kind of took our foot off the gas. Missouri’s a pretty good team, and they took advantage of it.”
LSU was 6 for 8 from 3-point range to open the game before Missouri surfaced with a 24-6 run for an 8-point cushion with 2:31 to go, including eight points from reserve Earnest Ross in just over a minute.
LSU closed the gap with two late 3-pointers from Hickey, who was 5 for 8 and had 17 points.
Hickey was 6 for 14 from 3-point range and topped his previous best of 21 points against Northwestern State in November. He had 20 points in the first meeting despite going 1 for 7 from long range.
Missouri led by as many as 16 points in the second half, pulling away from a 43-39 lead at the break. LSU got no closer than eight points in the final minutes, aided by shaky free throw shooting by Missouri.
The win improved Missouri‘s record at home this season to 16-0. The team returns to the court on Tuesday night when it takes on Arkansas for senior night. Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.
The supervising editor on this story was Megan Rentschler
Phil Pressey looks toward the basket with a smile after making a floater in the second half of Saturday’s game. Pressey shot 5-11 from the field in the win over LSU.
Alex Oriakhi (42) and Phil Pressey (1) get back on defense after Oriakhi scored two of his 18 points. Oriakhi finished the game with a double-double.
Alex Oriakhi gets ready to collect a pass down low in the second half of Saturday’s game against LSU. Oriakhi shot 9-11 from the field.
Jabari Brown (left) and Alex Oriakhi (middle) battle for position against Malik Morgan (bottom left) as LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III (2) gets ready to shoot a free throw. O’Bryant III finished the game with 18 points and eight rebounds despite Missouri’s 52-24 advantage in points in the paint.
Laurence Bowers sets a pick for Phil Pressey in Saturday’s win against LSU. Bowers finished with a double-double and led the Tigers with 23 points.