OXFORD — Missouri more than lived up to its reputation as one of the best offensive teams in college basketball. Ole Miss learned that the hard way Tuesday night.
The Tigers — who entered the game 13th in scoring at 83.1 points per game on just under 48% from the field — shot 55.4% from the field in an 89-77 win over the Rebels at SJB Pavilion. Ole Miss (9-11, 1-7) has now lost five-straight home games and eight of nine games overall.
Missouri averages 26 3-point shots per game and attempted 30 Tuesday. The Tigers finished the night 16 of 30 from deep.
"Teams that find themselves kind of where we are find different ways to lose games right now. We have found different ways,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “I like the fight of our team. We tried like heck, and it’s hats off to Missouri. They made a bunch of shots tonight, and a lot of different guys made shots, and credit to them.”
Ole Miss was without the services of leading scorer Matt Murrell. The junior left Saturday’s loss at Arkansas with a knee injury and was a game-time decision at tipoff Tuesday. Davis said Murrell sustained a minor MCL injury but is day-to-day and is “going to try like heck to be back on Saturday.”
Sophomore guard Daeshun Ruffin led Ole Miss with 18 points.
Missouri (15-4, 4-4) made eight of its first 11 shots and used an 18-4 run midway through the period to lead by as many as 16. But eight points in the final 2:29 from Ruffin brought the Rebels within eight, and a buzzer-beating putback jumper from freshman guard Amaree Abram made it a 47-41 Missouri lead at halftime.
The Tigers’ hot shooting continued into the second half, as Missouri made three of its first four buckets and took an 11-point lead. The 3-point barrage continued for Missouri, who hit a quartet of 3-pointers over a less-than-four-minute span to surge ahead by 17.
A bucket from senior forward Theo Akwuba brought Ole Miss within eight points with 3:43 left in regulation, but Missouri then went on a 6-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Missouri hit seven 3s in the second half and were led in scoring by guard Isaiah Mosley, who finished the game with 20 points. Four different players finished in double-figure scoring for Missouri.
The Rebels are in the midst of a rough patch, to say the least. But senior guard Tye Fagan still has hopes he and his teammates can turn the ship around. He used last season’s Texas A&M team — which lost eight games in a row at one point fairly late in the regular season before going on a run to the SEC Tournament final — as an example and inspiration.
“We have 11 SEC games left. We work too hard at practice to give up or quit,” Fagan, who finished with 12 points, said. “ … We made a commitment at the beginning of the season that we were going to do better than we did last year, and I still believe in that. So, for me, I’m going to continue to be a leader, continue to keep going hard at practice, learn what Coach Davis is trying to teach us, put it into the games, and we’re going to come up with some W’s.”
Ole Miss plays at Oklahoma State Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Tipoff is 7 p.m.