Everything went Missouri’s way.
It shot a season-high 62 percent, it got contributions from deep in its bench and, perhaps most importantly, it had Mississippi State on the schedule.
Junior forward Keanau Post and freshman forward Torren Jones either tied or set season-highs in points against RPI No. 219 Mississippi State (13-16, 3-13 Southeastern Conference) as the Tigers bulldozed the Bulldogs, 85-66, Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.
Jones and Post averaged 1.4 and 0.8 points per game respectively entering Saturday. Jones tied his career high with eight, while Post doubled his previous best, scoring 14.
They brought a flare for the dramatic as well. Post scored six points in 100 seconds early in the second half and Jones added an exclamation point with two high-flying dunks.
“Keanu’s activity was great, he and Torren both,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “They were bouncing around, and when they play with that kind of energy, it definitely helps our team.”
The win came as Missouri’s tournament hopes rest on life support. The Tigers desperately needed to get back in the left-hand column after dropping road contests to Georgia and Alabama.
“You always want to bounce back after losses,” junior guard Jabari Brown said. “This is March now and we don’t want to lose any games in March. March is our money time and we’re trying to make the most of it.”
Missouri (20-7, 8-8 SEC) ran into the right team in the right place at the right time. Mississippi State’s RPI, which measures record and strength of schedule, is the second worst of any team from a major conference and ranks 219th among all Division-I schools.
But the Tigers still needed to make their shots, and they did. After shooting 32 percent Tuesday at Georgia, Missouri made a season-high 62 percent of its shots, including 74 percent from inside the 3-point arc.
Perhaps contributing to the high shooting percentage, Missouri posted a season-high in assists as well. The Tigers tallied 19 helpers, with junior guard Jordan Clarkson leading the way with seven.
“That gives us great production when those guys are passing the ball like that,” Haith said.
The Tigers methodically built their lead throughout the game. For the first ten minutes, the game was within five points. By the time MU closed the half it was 13 points. Missouri blew the game open in the middle of the second, going on a 15-0 run over five minutes to give the home team a 25-point lead.
Post entered the game with only eight points in 13 conference games, but recently showed progress with four points and three rebounds in a Feb. 15 win against Tennessee. He went 6-for-6 Saturday for 14 points and seven rebounds.
“The last few games I’ve been playing well, I think it’s just a build up from that,” Post said.
Haith said the team expected a lot out of Post before the beginning of the season. Post earned Second Team Junior College All-America in his sophomore year at Southwestern Illinois College.
“I’m proud of Keanau,” Haith said. “He just kept working, he’s kept a positive attitude and we’ve kept coaching him. I could not be more proud of a young man having some positive things happen because he stayed with it.”
Missouri will try to stay hot to finish out the season, hosting Texas A&M on Wednesday before finishing the regular season Saturday at Tennessee.