No. 24 Missouri, Ole Miss out to continue tournament push

NCAA Men's Basketball

The No. 24 Missouri Tigers will try avenge their worst loss of the season when they host the Ole Miss Rebels in a Southeastern Conference game on Tuesday night in Columbia.

The Tigers (14-6, 7-6) fell at Ole Miss 80-59 on Feb. 10. They were outscored 38-22 in the second half.

The Rebels (12-9, 7-7) are coming off a costly 66-56 loss to rival Mississippi State at home on Saturday that snapped their four-game winning streak and stalled their late push for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.

“We just didn’t have our best edge, and we didn’t play like a team that was desperate chasing the (tournament) bubble tonight,” Rebels coach Kermit Davis said.

Missouri is looking to regain some momentum before the start of postseason play. The Tigers snapped their three-game losing streak by winning at South Carolina 93-78 on Saturday.

Center Jeremiah Tilmon returned after missing two games due to a death in his family. He came off the bench against the Gamecocks and scored 17 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.

“Just having his presence out there on the floor is something that you can’t really replace,” Tigers guard Dru Smith said. “So it was definitely nice to have him back. Obviously we’re all happy, and the energy is lifted just to get him back in the locker room and just have him around.”

Another plus for the Tigers has been the recent play of guard Mark Smith. He shot 5-for-9 from three-point range in his past two games after shooting 6-for-33 in his previous seven.

By getting his shooting stroke back, Mark Smith gained confidence with his overall game. He has scored 24 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded three steals in his past two games combined.

“It’s huge to have Mark contributing and just having him playing good basketball,” Dru Smith said. “I think there for a second he was kind of questioning himself when he was out there, and he looks like he’s back to being confident and being the Mark Smith that we all know and that we love to play with.

“He’s always gonna give you energy. He’s always gonna give you effort. And when he’s knocking down shots, it makes us even that much harder to guard.”

Ole Miss will be seeking to rebound after its nightmarish game against Mississippi State. Leading scorer Devontae Shuler shot 1-for-15 from the floor, including 0-for-6 from three-point range, and finished with four points.

Shuler averages a team-high 15.7 points per game, while Jarkel Joiner and Romello White each average 10.8.

“I thought Devontae had great looks,” Davis said. “First half, he had point-blank shots. One for 15, that disappoints me, but what really disappoints me is his defending. He let it affect the other end. Mississippi State did a good job, but I thought he had some really good looks. He had some really good looks from three. He had some great looks right around the rim, point-blank range, didn’t make them.

“We didn’t really have anybody else pick it up. None of our guys had elite energy.”

–Field Level Media

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