It all started with an off-balanced stumble by Reginald Buckner as he was going for an offensive rebound. He backed into Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi who fell to the ground. That is when Oriakhi made a mistake that unleashed mayhem on the court.
The Connecticut-transfer reached out and grabbed Buckner’s ankle and pulled him to the ground. The Ole Miss forward got up and charged towards Oriakhi who by then had shuffled away from the action. That was when Laurence Bowers got to Buckner first and extended a shove, which was returned by Buckner. Buckner was restrained by a referee, prompting Bowers to find a new target, Murphy Holloway.
After receiving a shove from Bowers, Holloway laughed it off and it subsided from there. As the action was dying down, Oriakhi crouched into a fighting stance with one fist behind his head and the other extended to the limit of his reach. The referees got it all under control, ejected Buckner, and the game went on from there.
Despite the ugliness of the incident, the shoving match still might not have been the worst part of the game for Ole Miss. After a 12-0 first half run that saw the Tigers push their lead to 33-13, the Rebels were never able to get the game within single digits. Between the lack of Tiger turnovers, the rebounding domination and the vast shooting disparity, there were a lot of telling statistics about the game.
Missouri (17-6, 6-4) is a team that struggles with turning the ball over, and their turnovers really cost them in their loss to Ole Miss. This time around, they only had 9 turnovers and when Ole Miss got in transition, they did a good job at limiting the opportunities. Phil Pressey, an assist and turnover machine, had just 1 turnover to his 4 assists.
Ole Miss shot 42 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three, numbers that were dwarfed by Missouri’s 47.3 and 52.2 percent marks. Pressey, Oriakhi, and Keion Bell all scored over 20 points with Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross also scoring in double-figures. Only Marshall Henderson, Jarvis Summers, and Snoop White scored over 10 for Ole Miss.
The biggest statistic of the game may have been the fact that Missouri, one of the country’s premier rebounding teams, beat Ole Miss 48-24 on the glass. Five different Tigers had more rebounds than the Rebel team leader (Henderson and Buckner had 4 each). Oriakhi had 18 rebounds alone, and proved to be a nagging nuisance to the Rebels that they could not overcome.
Aside from Pressey, the stars in the game were relatively held in check. Henderson had 11 first half points, but was limited to just 5 in the second half and appeared quiet in the later period. Holloway had his worst game of the season, finishing with 7 points and just 1 rebound. The senior dominated Missouri last time around, finishing with 22 and 8. For Missouri, Laurence Bowers had almost as many pushes as he had points. He managed just 4 points and 5 boards in 26 minutes of play.
While it is the third time Ole Miss has been blown out in their last four games, all is not lost. Mizzou Arena is a hostile environment and one that has yielded zero wins to the opposition this season. In their last 82 home games, the Tigers are an astounding 78-4.
Missouri improved to 17-6 and 6-4 with the victory and they will travel to Starkville on Wednesday to take on Mississippi State (7-15, 2-8). The Bulldogs have been awful this season, but so have the Tigers on the road. Mizzou is 0-5 on the road this season, including 0-4 in conference.
Ole Miss fell to 18-5 and 7-3 with the loss. They might have also lost Buckner for at least a game. The SEC will review the altercation and a verdict will come well before Ole Miss’s next game at Texas A&M on Wednesday. The Aggies fell to Georgia today and have lost 6 of their last 8. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from College Station.