Missouri upsets South Carolina for 10th win of the season

Coach Kim Anderson: “These guys have worked really hard. They were unbelievably ready to play tonight.”
Missouri forward Russell Woods (25) goes up for a layup as South Carolina forward Eric Cobb (23) attempts to block the shot on Feb. 16 in Mizzou Arena.

Missouri is on another streak. Only this time, it is a streak the Tigers actually want to be on.

The Missouri men’s basketball team upset South Carolina on Tuesday night, 72-67, to grab the team’s second win in a row. More importantly, it was Mizzou’s 10th win of the season, which eclipses the Tigers’ win total of last season.

The Tigers opened the game playing staunch defense, forcing the Gamecocks to go 0/7 out of the starting gates, allowing Missouri to jump out to a 6-1 lead. South Carolina only shot 24 percent from the field in the first half.

Despite being without junior guard Wes Clark, who was dismissed due to failure to meet academic expectations, Missouri had no trouble scoring in the first half or throughout the night for that matter. Freshmen guards Cullen VanLeer and K.J. Walton filled in for Clark, with VanLeer picking up four first half points and Walton adding another two.

The already thin guard core was trimmed even more when freshman guard Terrence Phillips picked up his second foul with 11 minutes to go in the first half and was forced to be subbed out. Sophomore guard Tramaine Isabell picked up the slack, scoring 10 points and dishing two assists in his 13 first half minutes.

“Tramaine was ready,” sophomore guard Namon Wright said. “He stepped up when we needed him to.”

However, Missouri also handed the ball back to South Carolina nine times in the first half and were lucky that the Gamecocks scored only eight points off of turnovers. At half, the Tigers entered the locker room with a 33-25 lead.

South Carolina came out firing in the second half, cutting the Tiger lead to one possession twice in the half before taking a 63-62 lead with three minutes to go.

Then, Phillips took over. In the final two minutes, Phillips scored four points and also added one assist and one rebound to help Missouri secure its 10th win of the season. Phillips finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes played.

“(Phillips) brings a whole different attitude to the floor,” coach Kim Anderson said. “He’s a very coachable guy.”

Taking some of the pressure off of Phillips was senior forward Ryan Rosburg, who has played exceptionally well in February.

Rosburg scored 18 points, eight of which came from the free throw line, while also dishing a key assist to Phillips to put the Tigers back on top in the game’s closing stages.

“Ryan’s starting to score so you’ve got to guard him,” Anderson said. “That makes things more open on the perimeter.”

When the dust settled, Missouri held onto its narrow lead, winning the game 72-67. The Tigers now travel to Fayetteville, Ark., where they will have a rematch with Arkansas on Saturday, whom they lost to 94-61 on Jan. 12. The game will be played at 6:30 p.m. and can be viewed on the SEC Network.

Missouri will enter Saturday with hope, something the team has not had in a long time.

“The past few games, it has felt like a different team,” Wright said. “We’re going to try to ruin some teams’ record.”

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