Tigers stumble in seventh straight, lose 67-47 to Ole Miss
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Leading by two points with 9:37 remaining in the first half at Missouri on Saturday, Mississippi’s Anthony Perez launched a 3-point attempt that bounced high off the back rim only to be palmed by teammate Stefan Moody in midair.
The 5-foot-10-inch junior dunked it with his right hand before landing on his feet and flexing his arms in front of the Tigers’ student section.
"I think that not only invigorated him but our whole team," coach Andy Kennedy said after the Rebels won 67-47. "We see that quite often. He is a special player off the bounce."
Ole Miss (14-7, 5-3 SEC) outscored the Tigers 50-32 the rest of the way, including runs of 8-0 and 7-0 in the first half to build a 37-25 lead at the break. The Rebels led by at least nine points throughout the closing 20 minutes.
Moody finished as the only Mississippi player in double figures with 23 points, while Perez and M.J. Rhett each added eight. Martavious Newby grabbed nine rebounds.
Johnathan Williams III scored 14 points for Missouri (7-14, 1-7), which lost its seventh consecutive game for the first time since 1993. The Tigers, who lost 69-53 to No. 1 Kentucky about 40 hours before Saturday’s tipoff, shot just 19 of 61 (31.1 percent) from the field.
"We missed a lot of open shots early that I thought we had, and then it kind of snowballed," Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. "I’m disappointed in the effort, and that’s probably one of the few times I’ve said that this year."
Mississippi ranks first in the country with a 79.9 percent conversion rate from the free-throw line, and finished 13 of 15 as a team. Moody leads the SEC at a 90.7 percent clip and made all 10 of his attempts.
"I came out a lot more calm, and then I got the tip-slam and I just kind of went off of that," Moody said.
Missouri trailed by at least 10 points for all but 73 seconds in the final 25:50 after Anderson said Thursday that his team had been playing better despite its record. There were few bright spots Saturday, though.
Wes Clark scored eight points after netting a career-high 19 against the Wildcats while Williams grabbed seven rebounds. Anderson suspended freshman Tramaine Isabell for the game because of "unacceptable" behavior toward his coaches and teammates.
When asked how to stop the team’s losing streak, Williams despondently said, "Don’t put your head down. That’s about it."
The game seemed to be a sideshow at times for Missouri, which recognized football coach Gary Pinkel and his team for its Citrus Bowl win against Minnesota on New Year’s Day. Clapping and snapping pictures in the audience was heralded football recruit Terry Beckner Jr., who was on an official visit to the school.
The defensive tackle from East St. Louis, Illinois, toured Ohio State last weekend and Auburn the week before, along with Florida State in November. Students showered him with praise as he walked to his seat pregame, holding up signs and T-shirts with Beckner’s name on them.
Beckner Jr. is expected to announce what school he will attend on National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Mississippi: The Rebels shot 24 of 55 (43.6 percent) from the field.
Missouri: A layup by Williams narrowed the Tigers’ deficit to 48-39 with 9:39 remaining, but they watched Ole Miss gradually extend its lead to as many as 24 points the rest of the way. The Tigers finished 3 of 10 from the free-throw line.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I think for us to win, we have to have energy and passion and toughness," Anderson said. "I thought Ole Miss was probably tougher than we were. That’s disappointing as a coach. But you know what? You still go out there and try to coach them next week."
Mississippi returns home to face Texas A&M on Wednesday.
Missouri plays at Alabama on Wednesday.