Missouri defeats cold-shooting Texas A&M

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Alex Oriakhi scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds Thursday night as No. 6 seed Missouri defeated cold-shooting No. 11 seed Texas A&M 62-50 in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Texas A&M (18-15) shot a season-low 24.1 percent (14 of 58) in the first SEC tournament confrontation between these two former Big 12 rivals. Missouri (23-9) led from start to finish and earned a quarterfinal matchup with No. 3 seed Mississippi (23-8).

Missouri is seeking its second straight conference tournament title and third in the last five years. The Tigers won the Big 12 tournament in 2009 and 2012. Missouri’s last conference tournament loss came against Texas A&M in the 2011 Big 12 quarterfinals.

Laurence Bowers, Jabari Brown and Tony Criswell had 10 points each as Missouri benefited from the balanced scoring that has sparked the Tigers’ success all season. Missouri is the only major-conference team that has six players with scoring averages in double figures.

Fabyon Harris led Texas A&M with 15 points.

Texas A&M had ranked fourth in the SEC in field-goal percentage (.447) during the regular season, but the Aggies had all kinds of trouble scoring Thursday with star guard Elston Turner playing hurt.

Turner broke the pinkie finger in his left hand March 6 in Texas A&M’s 68-57 loss to LSU and sat out the Aggies’ regular-season finale. Turner returned to action Wednesday and scored 22 points in a 71-62 victory over Auburn, but he wasn’t nearly as effective against Missouri.

The 6-foot-5 senior shot 3 of 17 and scored seven points, only the third time all season he had been held to single digits.

Texas A&M’s shooting woes Thursday started immediately.

The Aggies shot 4 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half, but they made just two of their 16 attempts from inside the arc. Turner delivered a fadeaway jumper and a lay-in off the glass in the first 3 minutes of the game, but Texas A&M wouldn’t convert another two-point basket until 17:10 remained in the game.

While Harris and Turner teamed up to shoot 6 of 14 in the first half, the rest of the Aggies were a combined 0 for 12.

Although Texas A&M continued misfiring in the second half, the Aggies stayed within striking distance for a while and only trailed 30-23 after Alex Caruso scored with 17:10 left.

But that’s as close as they would get.

Missouri then went on a 15-3 run to put the game away. During that spurt, Texas A&M went over seven minutes without a basket.

The Tigers led by as many as 21 points until Texas A&M went on a late run after both teams had emptied their benches.