Missouri outlasts Mississippi State to earn key overtime win
Rory Whetstone • 2/22/2023 in Basketball
In one of the most thrilling games this SEC season, the Missouri Tigers (20-8, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) earned a 66-64 overtime win against Mississippi State Bulldogs (18-10, 6-9 Southeastern Conference) thanks to a clutch Nick Honor three pointer.
The Tigers were led by Kobe Brown (17 points) and D’Moi Hodge (16 points) and got their much-needed revenge after losing the previous meeting in Starkville. Missouri entered the game tonight having lost their last seven games against Mississippi State.
While Mississippi State had another strong performance from Tolu Smith (14 points, 10 rebounds), it wasn’t enough to get the job done.
In what marked Missouri’s most wins in a season since 2017-18, the Tigers and Bulldogs found themselves going back and forth throughout with 19 lead changes in the game.
The game started in a very different fashion for Missouri as they found themselves successfully grabbing rebounds. On the Tigers' first possession of the game, they snagged four rebounds and their hard work eventually brought Mo Diarra to the line. While Diarra missed both free throws, he still had an excellent start to the game and kept up that momentum until he fouled out late in the second half.
Tre Gomillion also came back just in time for the Tigers as helped in the rebounding depart, a spot where they can always use the extra boost. Gomillion missed several games due to a groin injury, and in his return, he pushed the offense forwards and shined on defense as he had a team-leading 10 rebounds.
Another Tiger with a fast start to the game was Hodge. He was able to push his way to the rim and had great touch from 3-point land, creating 10 points within the first five and half minutes.
The game turned out to be a tense one as the largest lead of the night was only six points. It would remain neck and neck as the Bulldogs took a 34-31 lead into the half, and Kobe Brown missed an opportunity to end the game in regulation on a buzzer-beater layup, but Honor netted a pair of threes to secure the win for the Tigers in overtime.
It marked Missouri's 20th win of the season, and with one more, Dennis Gates will tie for most wins by a first-year SEC coach since Missouri joined the league in 2012.
The start of the game immediately showed why Mississippi State is seen as one of the best defensive teams in the nation. They played a tight defense and Missouri had issues with it. They struggled to find ways to get the ball to the paint and their perimeter passing was insufficient.
Eventually, the Tigers were able to break through and began converting, yet the Bulldogs still put up a fight as they kept it a low-scoring game.
Missouri instantly answered on the other end of the court doing what they do best: force turnovers. They showed why they rank eighth in the country with 17.5 turnovers forced per game and second with 10.5 steals. Against Mississippi State, Missouri forced 14 turnovers and were able to grab 15 points from the Bulldogs' offensive mistakes. The Tigers also swiped the ball 11 times. Finishing the game with three steals, Hodge demonstrated why he is first in SEC and seventh nationally with 2.52 steals per game.
Missouri also was able to maintain its strong defense along the three-point perimeter as they didn’t allow Mississippi State to net one three throughout the entire second half. They also only let the Bulldogs convert on four field goals in the last 8 minutes.
Brown continued to show why he is a top candidate for SEC Player of the Year as he put up 17 points and grabbed six rebounds.
While he was limited to seven points in the first half, he maintained his season average of 16.4 points, the most by a Mizzou player since Jabari Brown had 19.9 in 2013-14. Additionally, his 18.0 points in SEC play are the second most in Missouri history.
While Brown didn’t have his best game, he still showed up when the team needed him most.
Entering the game, his field goal percentage was the highest by an SEC player since Arkansas's Daniel Gafford in 2018-19 (66.0%), but Brown was only 35 percent from the field in the win. However, he showed how crucial he is to this Missouri team as he drew fouls, grabbed some boards, created chances for his teammates, and pushed his way to the rim.
The game looked bleak for the Tigers in the remaining seconds of overtime until the ball was in Honor’s hands.
Going 2-2 from three in overtime, he netted the game-winning shot with seven seconds left. Honor had more points in overtime than he did throughout regulation. He was helped by Noah Carter, who also hit a key 3-pointer in overtime.
They supplied the Tigers with a much-needed win heading into tournament season and kept them perfect outside of Quad 1.
In the Future
The Tigers look to start a hot steak as they head to Georgia to face the Bulldogs this Saturday.
Missouri has just three games left on their regular season schedule with one last game at Mizzou Arena against Ole Miss on March 4.
They'll look to end the season with a winning streak and keep that momentum heading into the SEC Tournament.